It's Time to Stop Blowing Leads, Powerplay Hagel? College Prospects to Watch, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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It’s Time to Stop Blowing Leads, Powerplay Hagel? College Prospects to Watch, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Anyone else getting exhausted by this team? I want to love them, and they’ve given me plenty of reasons to do so, but they’re also pretty good at getting me to pull my hair out. Why can’t they hold onto a lead?

I get that they’re young and relatively inexperienced, but letting seven of their last nine multi-goal leads slip away is ridiculous. Maybe I got spoiled by the early season schedule working out in their favor. But we’re certainly paying the price here in March. And it’s not going to get easier anytime soon.

•   Chicago is now 2-4-1 in the month of March, having lost four of their last five games. They still hold a playoff spot in the Central Division with 33 points and a .550 points percentage, but their cushion over the Dallas Stars is shrinking.

•   Things really did change since then. Drastically.

•   There is still time for this club to figure things out, but as the trade deadline approaches, Chicago needs to do one of two things: 1) go full nosedive out of the playoffs and into the draft lottery, or 2) fully commit to making the playoff push now and making lineup changes that can break the team out of this slump. Middling is just not a great option.

•   Moving on from the big picture, I would love to see Brandon Hagel get powerplay time. Chicago was a ghastly 0-for-4 with just one shot on goal on the powerplay last night. Twice following the conclusion of a powerplay, Hagel stepped on the ice and immediately created an offensive opportunity. Why not give him time on the man-advantage?

•   While this wasn’t the most skilled goal you’ll ever see, this is Hagel being in the right spot and getting “rewarded” for out-battling his defender in front of the net. It’s little things like this that make him stand out, even when he’s not getting on the scoresheet every night.

•   A fun statistical note coming out of the game last night was Patrick Kane scoring the game’s opening goal. He snapped a six-game goalless drought and moved into fifth all-time in points (1,064) for US-born players.

•   Kane passes Joe Mullen for fifth all-time and is two points away from passing Keith Thachuk (1,065) for fourth all-time.

•   Kane remains at the top of the NHL in scoring with 42 points in 30 games. He trails only Leon Draisaitl (46) and Connor McDavid (53). Those three are still the only players to eclipse 40 points so far this season. While Kane has been the MVP this season for the Blackhawks, I’d say him Hart Trophy campaign for NHL MVP is beginning to lose steam.

•   Kevin Lankinen’s Calder Trophy campaign for NHL Rookie of the Year is also losing a lot of steam. Lankinen is 10-6-4 this season with a .916 save percentage and a2.85 GAA. He is just 1-3-1 in his last five starts with a .892 save percentage and has allowed 19 goals over that span.

•   Speaking of rookies, Hagel and Philipp Kurashev notched goals last night for the Blackhawks. Kurashev’s seventh goal of the season is second on the team for rookies behind Pius Suter’s eight goals. The Blackhawks lead the NHL this season in goals (22) and points (46) by rookies.

•   A congratulations to Blackhawks Head Equipment Manager Troy Parchman on working his 2,000th professional hockey game last night!

•   Just a reminder, maybe even just for myself, that it could always be worse for Chicago this season…

•   Way worse…

•   Hey remember the good times?

•   Speaking of good times, the Blackhawks coming to town is really helping a lot of teams with fans in the building. But, you know, what else is new?

•   A Happy Blackhawks Birthday to former Blackhawks Tyler Arnason and Kim Johnsson!

•   In Blackhawks college prospect news, it appears that 2018 seventh-round pick Josiah Slavin of Colorado College has signed his entry-level deal with the Blackhawks.

•   Slavin had 10 goals and 26 points in 56 NCAA games with Colorado College over the past two seasons.

•   Elsewhere in the NCAA, Josh Ess, another seventh-round pick by the Blackhawks, is playing in the Big 10 Conference Tournament Final tonight as Wisconsin takes on  Minnesota.

•   Five other Blackhawks college prospects were eliminated from their conference tournaments in the past two days. Two prospects lost in the NCHC semifinals last night as 2020 third-round pick Wyatt Kaiser and Minnesota-Duluth lost to St. Cloud State, and acquired prospect Slava Demin and the University of Denver lost in overtime to North Dakota. Three others, Jake Wise, Alex Vlasic, and Drew Commesso with Boston University, lost on Sunday night in the Hockey East quarterfinals to UMass-Lowell.

•   Finally, on a somber note, sad news out of the Russian Junior MHL this morning as 19-year-old Timur Faizutdinov died from injuries he sustained after being hit in the head by a puck on March 12th.

•   I don’t want to share the video of the play, but a seemingly innocent dump of the puck hit Faizutdinov up high and he immediately grabbed for his head. He had to be stretchered off the ice and taken to the hospital where he and doctors “fought for his life” over the past three days.

•   Take time today to be grateful for the day and what you have that is important in your life. Have a good Tuesday, everyone.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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