Carl! Good To See You, Beast Mode On Skates, Returning to the UC, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Carl! Good To See You, Beast Mode On Skates, Returning to the UC, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Thinking back to the late-2000’s and early 2010’s, the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings were two of the top franchises in the NHL. Facing-off in an iconic Winter Classic in Wrigley Field and two memorable series’ in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was the final height of one of the the classic Original Six rivalries. Toews, Kane, Hossa (for both sides), Keith, Seabrook, Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Kronwall, the marquee matchup of that time.

That rivalry will be renewed (at least, for one season) beginning on Friday night at the United Center. But the marquee has a new look to it. Kane and Keith remain for Chicago, but they are now flanked by Strome, DeBrincat, and Kubalík. On the other side, the Red Wings are in the same boat, just a few steps ahead. Gone are the legends of old, and in their place come names like Larkin, Mantha, Zadina, and Hronek.

The NHL wants these two franchises to return to the top of the mountain, and that will be on full display with the Sunday matinée on NBC. But for now, these two teams will battle for being not last in the Central Division (or, actually … maybe they’ll just battle for the #1 pick in the draft).

•   The Blackhawks started to prepare for the Red Wings on Thursday, getting back on the ice after going 0-3-1 on the opening four-game road trip in Florida against the Lightning and Panthers. With the return to practice came the debut of 35-year-old center Carl Söderberg with the Blackhawks and a plethora of roster moves.

•   It will be very interesting to see where Jeremy Colliton fits Söderberg into the lineup. With the emphasis placed on development and playing the young players on the team, he doesn’t fit that mold but can bring a steady veteran presence to the lineup.

•   The outlook for Söderberg this season should really be beyond what he does with Chicago. It’s highly likely that he will be traded by the deadline to a contending team, so for him and the Blackhawks, it’s best you get the best version of him and them move on.

•   Chicago is still holding onto all three goalies with Kevin Lankinen, Malcolm Subban, and Collin Delia on the active roster. After his performance in the 5-4 overtime loss to the Panthers, Lankinen may have earned his way to a start on Friday night against the Red Wings. If he continues to play well, it complicates the situation for Subban and Delia. Either Chicago will have to continue to carry all three goalies or risk putting either Subban or Delia on waivers to send them to the Taxi Squad or the Rockford IceHogs. For the time being, it’s still clear that the starting job is still up for grabs.

•   Friday night’s game will mark the first time hockey will be playing in the United Center since March 11, when the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks in the final game before the season was paused due to COVID. 317 days. It’s been a while.

•   With all that has gone on with the pandemic, the Blackhawks have had to get creative with how to stay involved in the community. The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus had an in-depth look at just how the Blackhawks were able to stay engaged through the COVID crisis. I recommend checking it out.

•   Speaking of COVID, because we literally can’t escape it, the Washington Capitals got hit with a $100,000 fine by the league for violating NHL COVID protocols.

•   Consequently, Ilya Samsnov, Dmitry Orlov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Alex Ovechkin have been placed on the Capitals COVID-19 absence list. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all four have positive tests.

•   Also talking about Russia and things bigger than hockey, if you don’t know the story of Alexei Navalny, he’s not a big fan of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not being a big fan of Putin isn’t usually something a lot of Russian’s in the public-eye do. But in the hockey world, it’s something that has had a spotlight put on it, and by one of the biggest Russian stars in the league, Artemiy Panarin. On Thursday, Panarin posted on his Instagram account in support of Navalny’s freedom (currently held in jail in Moscow). It’s not the first time that Panarin has spoke out against Putin. Why is this significant to the Blackhawks?

•   Along with Panarin’s post, Chicago defenseman Nikita Zadorov also posted on Instagram in support of Navalny’s freedom. Zadorov has used his social media accounts a number of times to express his displeasure with what has gone on in Russia over the years and that he does not intend to go back.

•   Anyways back to on the ice, where we find Marshawn Lynch. Yes, you read that correctly:

•   Wouldn’t want to be near the boards with “Beast Mode” coming at me, that’s for sure.

•   Finally, can’t forget to say a Happy Birthday to Blackhawks young-gun Kirby Dach!

•   20….damn.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.