Colliton's early timeout gave Blackhawks 'wake-up' call originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Blackhawks kicked off a crucial five-game road trip on Saturday in Columbus and are treating every game from here on out like it's the playoffs. But it took them a while to remind themselves of what's at stake against the Blue Jackets.
The Blackhawks allowed two goals in the first 3:13 and showed no signs of life in that mini stretch, which forced head coach Jeremy Colliton to take a timeout following the second goal. And his message was crystal clear.
"We just weren't ready to play," Alex DeBrincat said. "We were getting beat off the wall, missing checks. Obviously, they captialized. That was pretty much what was said in the timeout. We needed to play better. Just wake up a bit.
"He wasn't happy, obviously. None of us should have been, or were. It's tough when you go down two goals right off the hop. It's good that we came back, but we can't let that happen again."
Colliton doesn't like to call timeouts, and he said as much after the game. He prefers to keep it in his pocket in case of a challenge, and he certainly doesn't like using them in the opening minutes of the game.
But he felt a message needed to be sent and didn't hesitate to burn it early.
"We just didn’t look ready to play," Colliton said. "It’s a big game for us. Just wanted to hopefully get everyone’s attention. I don’t love using them, to be honest. You get typically enough time to speak to the team in the commercial timeouts and while the play’s going on. But tonight just felt like we needed it."
After the timeout, the Blackhawks outshot the Blue Jackets 16-1 over the next 25 minutes and score four unanswered goals. It was the exact response Colliton was looking for.
"He wanted us to reset," said Wyatt Kalynuk, who scored his first career NHL goal in the 4-3 victory. "I think we did that. We came back hard after the timeout and got a few before the end of the first, so that was huge for our team."
"It shows we got our heads into the game," DeBrincat echoed. "Obviously we need these points. We should have been ready right at the start. ... We had that resilience and effort to get back in the game."
The Blackhawks know how important these games are as they enter the final month of the season chasing down the No. 4 spot in the Central Division. They needed a wake-up call on Saturday before things turned sideways in a hurry and responded.
"I think we’re probably overstating it to think I was the one here," Colliton said. "To me, it’s ultimately the players that are the ones who responded to being down and understanding that we didn’t start well. I think it’s probably very simplistic to say that we called a timeout and then came back.
"Ultimately it’s the players who respond and they played hard and I’m glad they got rewarded with a win. It wasn’t pretty, but we don’t care if it’s pretty. At this point in the year, we need points."