Andreas Attanasiu improves defense after early season struggle


VANCOUVER, BC — A few weeks ago, Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson, like all players, met with forward Andreas Attanasio from time to time.

Richardson showed Attanasiu some video clips that could have been more defensive. The same clips were then reappeared on the team’s video session later that morning, and after watching them twice, Richardson was convinced he had “definitely got the message.”

“It wasn’t that he was cheating [the plays]but he was trying to outdo the rest of the team,” Richardson said.[I told him]”Play our system, trust it. We’ll kill that play and give the puck back to you. And everybody knows what they’re doing. It’s him and It was just a reminder to all the players.”

Athanasiou seems to have taken that lesson to heart. In fact, he seems to be improving his defense for some time now, even though it used to be a lower hurdle.

In Attanasiu’s first 26 games this season (October 12-December 9), he was as weak defensively as advertised when he arrived in Chicago. In his 5-for-5 ice-time at Athanasiu, the opposition produced 69.1 of his attempts and 35.9 of his scoring chances per 60 minutes. These were the highest and his third-highest rates, respectively, allowed by a Hawks forward.

However, after a brief absence for a family funeral, Attanasiu made his return against the Golden Knights on December 15, beginning a much improved stretch of play. From then until Saturday’s victory over the Blues, Attanasiu averaged just 54.5 shots from his opponents during ice time and his 24.8 scoring chances.

“If it doesn’t improve, something is wrong,” says Athanasiou. “Everyone comes in every day trying to get better at something, whether it’s the little things or the adjustments on the ice. It’s a continuous learning game.

“[I’m working on] All aspects of the game. My game is speed, so of course it can be used in attack, but there are many cases where it can be used in defense to steal time and space. In the backcheck and “D” zone, [I can use it for] Place the stick on the puck.

Saturday embodies perhaps Athanasio’s best defensive performance as a Hawk. Only goals were scored. Richardson yelled at him after the game without prompting.

“Athanasiu was great,” he said. “He’s known for his attacking speed and breakaways, but he used that speed consciously.” [when] Check back and stay on top of his checks. Thanks to his speed, he had some good sticks in the ‘D’ zone at the end when the goalie pulled over.and he immediately closes [on opponents]. . . we would love to see more of it. ”

Attanasiu’s defensive stats against the Kings on Sunday were less than flattering, but he caught Richardson’s eye with a strong stick play in the empty net sequence at the end of the game to win the ball in the offensive zone. You won a pack battle.

This match-to-match disparity hinted at another underlying trend.

Athanasiu spent most of January alongside two of the Hawks’ best defensive forwards, Jason Dickinson and Sam Lafferty. The only Hawk with the speed to do it.

But after Tyler Johnson picked up an injury on Sunday, Attanasio is back next to Max Domi and Patrick Kane.He spent most of the fall.Subpar again.

This rearrangement could test his defensive improvement fortitude, as his scoring chance percentage at Kane this season is 35.9% compared to 48.7% at Lafferty. But when it holds up, it becomes even more impressive.

“[He’s] I think the more conscious about it is what it is. “Because anyone can play defense if you want,” Richardson said. It is not.”


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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