What gets lost in the near-perfect record of the Chicago Blackhawks is the machine-like precision of a lot of these wins. They stick to their game plan and wait for their skill to eventually take over. It’s easy in the game of hockey to try and do too much. When you do, you open yourselves up to mistakes and scoring chances for the other team. The Hawks have the patience not to force the issue. If the play isn’t there, they don’t try to make it.
Coaches have a term for plays that don’t turn out as planned. In the coaching vernacular they are called “hope plays.” You see a teammate who might be open, so you send the puck his way “hoping” that he gets it. These plays don’t exist in Coach Joel Quenneville’s playbook. If you don’t know for sure that a guy is open, you don’t make the pass. He would rather you eat the puck or ice it rather than turn it over in the wrong area of the ice.
In postgame interviews, we keep hearing the players talk about “playing the right way.” Being on the defensive side of the puck when you don’t have it. Chipping it in and chipping it out. Not taking needless penalties. Playing hard every shift. This is what playing the right way means. It all sounds very easy and is common sense, but in the heat of the battle it becomes very hard. Playing the right way has become second nature for this Blackhawk team, and it’s got them to the top of the league.