The Chicago Blackhawks hit the road for a six-game trip, beginning tonight in Detroit against the Red Wings.
Chicago took both of their previous games against the Red Wings this season, outscoring them 10-3 in the process. Chicago is out-performing many of our expectations this season and with winnable games coming up on the schedule, they have a chance to put some separation between “contender” and “pretender” status.
• Chicago sits in a four-way tie for second in the Central Division with 18 points through 16 games, but are fifth based on the Divisional tie-breakers. They sit in sixth based on points percentage. They have the second-best powerplay in the NHL, with the 15th-ranked penalty-kill, and rank 12th in the league in PDO. Are they for real?
• The upcoming six-game road trip will be the first of two such trips for the Blackhawks this season. In a year with such a condensed schedule, rest and recovery becomes key. For rookies, the adjustment can be difficult in a normal season. But so far, rookie defenseman Ian Mitchell is feeling good.
Ian Mitchell: "I thought the schedule with the amount of games would really take a toll on me but so far I don't think it has. That's really been a huge benefit for myself just coming in and maybe not being used to playing this many games." #Blackhawks (2/2)
— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) February 15, 2021
• With all five players who were out at one point due to COVID coming back into the f0ld, they just might be reaching their healthiest point of the season. Healthiest, being a relative term when dealing with COVID, of course. Ryan Carpenter, Lucas Wallmark, and Adam Boqvist have all been taken off of the NHL COVID Protocol list in the past few days, all being confirmed positive cases. It will take time to get them back into the lineup regularly, but it leaves the Blackhawks with no players on the COVID list, currently. Which is obviously a good thing.
• As far as health goes, defenseman Duncan Keith might be one of the most in-shape and conditioned 37-year-old athletes in the world today. At least in hockey he is. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan did a deep-dive on Keith, his training regiment, and nutritional habits that keep him playing at such a high-level this far into his career. I highly recommend checking out the full article. There’s lymphatic drainage, electrical mats, and plenty of steak and potatoes. Pretty much what you could expect from a guy like Keith.
“Why would I go anywhere?” Keith said. “Where is it better than Chicago? It’s a great city, I’ve been fortunate to play here my whole career, great ownership, and I just love it. My goal is to win another Stanley Cup in Chicago. That’s what I want.” – ESPN, Emily Kaplan
• To highlight another great piece, The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus spoke with Collin Delia, the Blackhawks third goaltender, recently. After coming into this season looking like he had a chance to potentially be the Blackhawks starter, Delia has found himself the odd-man out in the Chicago goalie rotation. The emergence of Kevin Lankinen and steady backup play of Malcolm Subban has put Delia in a weird spot for the second season in-a-row. You won’t find contempt for the Blackhawks or his teammates, but you will find a frustrated player with no clear path ahead of him. You’ll also find a Corey Crawford comparison. I fully recommend checking it out as well.
Honestly, he’s not even sure if he’d prefer his current situation, isolated and working with Jimmy Waite and the taxi squad, or playing every night in Rockford. He said he was “indifferent” because there are benefits and downsides to both. There simply are no good options for him at the moment. – The Athletic, Mark Lazerus
• A player that is actually on the move to Rockford is MacKenzie Entwistle. The Blackhawks sent him from the Taxi Squad down to the IceHogs this morning. Entwistle has not played in a game yet this season for the Blackhawks and it would do him a lot of good to get back on the ice. He’ll join a Rockford team that is 0-2-1 to begin the season. Entwistle had 26 points in 56 AHL games last season with the IceHogs as a rookie.
• Finally, seven years ago today, we were introduced to T.J. Sochi.
Today, 7 years ago. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/0Q6NQu37RS
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) February 15, 2021
• If only they had medaled…