For the first time in his new city, Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton was introduced to the home crowd. What else were fans at the United Center supposed to do?
Of course, they cascaded Colliton with a long, loud “Q!”
But Joel Quenneville isn’t behind the bench anymore. It’s the 33-year-old Colliton, who — in his fourth game since his sudden, startling promotion — finally got his first NHL victory, 1-0 over the Blues.
It wasn’t artistic, but it was highly satisfying. It also snapped the team’s eight-game losing streak.
“It’s not a lot of fun to see the [losses] add up, so I’m very happy for the group,” Colliton said. “They battled really hard.”
Any chance he felt happy for the coach, too?
“I do, yeah,” he said. “It’s true.”
Colliton couldn’t have done it without goalie Corey Crawford, who stopped all 28 shots he faced — the most dangerous a second-period one-timer by Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko. It was Crawford’s first shutout in over a year, his 2017-18 season having been cut short after a concussion.
It was a veteran-led effort all around, with Brent Seabrook scoring the lone goal on a power play and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane getting the assists. Like Crawford, those grizzled guys have been around seemingly forever — quite the juxtaposition with their baby-faced coach.
The Hawks benefitted from some real luck, too, which has been in short supply since mid-October. Seabrook’s goal trickled in off the skate of Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. A wicked blast by Colton Parayko with traffic in front of the net bounced off the inside of the left post, but Crawford got a glove on it before damage was done.
Colliton’s players gave him the game puck in the locker room.
“Across the board, [we’ve] been so impressed with his poise, how calm he is and his attention to all the details on such short notice since he’s taken over,” Toews said. “It’s pretty amazing. He understands what it takes to be a leader, understands what it takes for everyone to fulfill our roles and be good teammates and what makes a good team. It’s been fun to play for him so far.”
Kruger getting close
Defenseman Brandon Davidson missed the game with a right leg injury and is day-to-day. Center Marcus Kruger missed his third straight game with a left leg injury, but he practiced Wednesday — for the second day in a row — and was optimistic about returning Friday against the Kings at the UC.
Tuesday’s call-up of Gustav Forsling from the Hawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford made it eight defensemen on the roster — one more than the generally accepted norm, though the team has carried eight before.
Forsling was in the lineup against the Blues, with Davidson out and Jan Rutta a healthy scratch. Rookie center Alexandre Fortin was a healthy scratch for the first time.
Presumably, a defenseman will be sent down when Kruger is activated. Then again, who knows for sure?
“I’m not sure,” Colliton said. “We haven’t had to have that discussion yet. I’m not against it. I’m not for it.”
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