The Nightmare Stretch Begins Tonight, Ovi Gets Fined, IceHogs Get Worked, a Dylan Strome Sighting, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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The Nightmare Stretch Begins Tonight, Ovi Gets Fined, IceHogs Get Worked, a Dylan Strome Sighting, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Finally! The Chicago Blackhawks have come back to MONDAY NIGHT RAW!…I mean, to play the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After a three-day layoff, the Blackhawks are back in action tonight, taking on the Lightning for the first time since the opening series of the season. You remember, back when the Blackhawks looked miserable. Well, now they look like a much more competent hockey team, sitting in a playoff spot in the Central Division on both points and points percentage.

With that said, tonight marks the beginning of a very difficult stretch for the Blackhawks, who’ll play teams ahead of them in the standings for 10 of their next 14 games (starting with three games in four days against the division-leading Lightning).

•   Since defeating the Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks have been owned by Tampa. In 12 games since winning Game Six of that Cup Final, the Blackhawks are 2-8-2 against the Lightning, dropping 10 of the last 11 meetings.

•   Tampa Bay comes into the series having posted three-straight shutouts, all coming on the back of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’s on the verge of Lightning franchise history, unless the Blackhawks score in the first two minutes of the game.

•   A good sign for the Blackhawks on the injury-front this morning as Dylan Strome got on the ice for an individual workout before practice.

•   Strome has been in concussion protocol since February 22, this was the first “update” we’ve had on him since then.

•   Speaking of injury updates, I just want to boost Ben Pope’s point here:

•   There are no secret updates that the media or anyone else is keeping when it comes to Jonathan Toews. He has a right to keep whatever is going on with him private and when there is information that needs to be public about it, there will be. We all want to know what is going, but there’s lines that don’t need to be crossed when a player, or anyone else, wants to deal with something privately.

•   While we’re talking about injuries, Trent Frederic probably isn’t feeling great this morning…

•  Ovechkin did get fined for this, too. But what’s five grand to a player like Ovechkin right?

•   It was wild to see the amount of people saying it was OK that Ovechkin speared Frederic in the junk. “He had it coming.” “Teach him a lesson.” Well, yeah, in the context of what is acceptable in hockey, Ovechkin could have easily “taught him a lesson” when Frederic dropped the gloves in his face and Ovechkin didn’t take the fight. At that point, his opportunity to “teach a lesson” has gone. Doing something like THAT, can cause serious damage even if you’re wearing a cup. Super uncool move by Ovechkin in my book.

•   Also super uncool last night, the Rockford IceHogs and Grand Rapids Griffins game. Rockford lost 9-4, but at one point in the game it was 9-2. The Griffins out-shot the IceHogs 49-21 including a 21-4 difference in the second period, where the Griffins scored six goals in the frame.

•   It was BAD. The IceHogs are now 1-7-1 this season, with a league-worst -19 goal differential.

•   Last night was also historic for a former IceHogs and Blackhawks defenseman…

•   800 NHL games for Niklas Hjalmarsson. I miss him.

•   Can’t forget, today is March 4th, the city of Chicago’s Birthday!

•  Looking good for 184!

•   Finally, we’ve seen Patrick Kane’s spin-o-rama goal and we’ve seen T.J. Oshie’s diving score, but is this goal the Goal of the Year??

•   I say yes.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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