They Keep Finding Ways To Win, Hustling Hagel, It Was 5-1, and Other Blackhawks Bullets | Bleacher Nation

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They Keep Finding Ways To Win, Hustling Hagel, It Was 5-1, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night was a stolen victory for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Out-played and out-chanced by the Detroit Red Wings for 60 minutes, the Blackhawks were able to hang on for overtime and get the win with just seconds to spare. They’ve now won their last four games that have gone to overtime. Chicago also has played the most games this season that have gone to overtime or the shootout (8). At 8-5-4 overall, they sit in a playoff spot in the Central Division based on points AND points percentage for the first time this season. Is this all a dream or are these the real Blackhawks? Time will have to tell.

•   For now, you have to respect them. They are not the team we expected to see or the same team we saw in the first four games of the season. After dropping their first four games and allowing five goals against in each game, the Blackhawks have gone 8-2-3. Is it a fluke? Maybe. Is it sustainable? Not entirely. But damn has it been fun.

•   One thing you have to look at in thinking the Blackhawks are starting to believe themselves that this is their real identity is the response to last night’s win. We’ve gone from “we’ll take two points anyway we can get them,” to a place where winning a game like last night’s makes them upset.

•   Chicago has been a resilient bunch this season. We talk about having “buy-in” and when you watch this team, you see it. Players are buying into the fact that they can be in every game. The Blackhawks have not lost a game by more than one goal since the third game of the season against the Panthers back on January 17. Every single game since then, they’ve had a chance to win. That’s pretty impressive coming from where we thought they would be at this point in the season.

•   Good teams find those ways to stay in games, come back from deficits, and sometimes have to steal wins when you don’t deserve the full two points. The real tests will still be against teams like the Lightning, Hurricanes, and Panthers, but coming from where the Blackhawks were previously expected to finish this year, every game is a test and so far they are passing with pretty good grades. Better than I ever got in school.

•   Brandon Hagel has been a lightning rod of energy for the Blackhawks this season. He tallied his third assist of the year on a hustle play that has become a staple of his game in the very early stages of his NHL career. He does a little bit of everything, except finish on breakaway chances. He is quickly rising to the top of favorite players amongst the Blackhawks community.

•   Speaking of rookies making an impact, Pius Suter tallied his fourth assist of the season last night on Dominik Kubalík’s overtime winner. Suter now leads all NHL rookies in goals (6) and points (10) through 17 games this season. His 0.59 points per game pace is fourth among rookies who have played at least seven games this season, and his 15:12 minutes per game is tied for third among rookie forwards with at least seven games played.

•   Mattias Janmark is another under-the-radar player that is making his impact on the Blackhawks fan base. Coming into this season, Janmark was looked at as a defensive forward who could chip-in some offense. He was a bit buried on the Dallas Stars roster, and with the opportunity to play a bigger role in Chicago, Janmark has thrived.

•  Janmark is playing on both ends of special teams and has already matched his previous two seasons’ goal totals with his sixth tally last night. It took him 81 games in 2018-19 and 62 games in 2019-20 to reach six goals. He’s reached six goals in 17 games this season. His career-high in a season is 19 goals, which he did in 81 games in the 2017-18 season. Janmark is on pace to match that this season (19.78) if he plays in all 56 games.

•   A roster move was reported by CapFriendly in the middle of the game last night, with no official word form the team yet. But, it appears that Adam Boqvist will be headed to the Blackhawks Taxi Squad and defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk will move to the active roster for Chicago. Kaylnuk has played two AHL games with the IceHogs this season, while Boqvist is still recovering from his positive COVID diagnosis.

•   Speaking of the Rockford IceHogs, they play tonight at home against the Chicago Wolves. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. CT as Rockford looks for their first win of the season. They are 0-2-1 through the first three games and will be without Captain Garrett Mitchell for tonight’s contest.

•   A Happy Birthday to former Blackhawks winger Tuomo Ruutu! The 38-year-old was the ninth-overall selection by the Blackhawks in the 2001 NHL Draft and played 228 games for Chicago.

•   While the Blackhawks may or may not be legit contenders this season, depending on who you ask, we do know that the Toronto Maple Leafs definitely are contenders and the Ottawa Senators very much are not. So last night’s 6-5 overtime win for the Senators was very much a shock. Until you learn that the Maple Leafs held a 5-1 lead in the second period, then it’s understandable how this outcome came to be. You have to see for yourself, the Leafs just Leafed it all up last night.

•   YEEESH.

•   If you’re like me, you had a ton of snow to deal with this morning. In the Chicagoland area and the Midwest, it was nothing new. But other parts of the country are getting slammed with snow that are not usually prepared for it. In Texas, for instance, they are having power outages and dangerous conditions around the state. The Dallas Stars were supposed to host the Nashville Predators last night and tonight, both games have been postponed due to power outages in Dallas. Crazy.

•   But there are ways to have fun with the winter storms and FREEZING temperatures. Make a crossword puzzle on your backyard ice rink, for instance.

•   Good luck solving it!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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