We Knew March Would Be Tough (But Yeesh ...), Reinforcements on the Way, Bowman, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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We Knew March Would Be Tough (But Yeesh …), Reinforcements on the Way, Bowman, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Hope you all had a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day and that the potential hangover doesn’t affect your 9:00 am Zoom meeting from home.

•   Watching the Chicago Blackhawks has felt like having a hangover in recent weeks (or essentially all of March). The Blackhawks have lost four of their last five games*, all in regulation, and have seen their once very comfortable and fluffy cushion in the Central Division playoff race turn into a flattened, overused futon mattress with your college roommates butt-print left in it. If Chicago is going to go into the final month and a half of the season with any kind of momentum, it will have to start with getting points in their next four games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, two teams against whom the Blackhawks are a combined 1-6-2 this season.

*That 1-4-0 stretch is their worst of the season since the opening week where they started off 0-3-1 against Tampa Bay and Florida.

•   Chicago faces the Lightning next to finish off a six-game road trip, the last of its kind for this season, where the Blackhawks have gone 1-3-0 against the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers previously.

•   The newly aligned Central Division for this season only looked like it would be fun for the Blackhawks to renew a rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings, and get new opponents they would usually only see once or twice a year from the Eastern Conference. Well, the Red Wings games have been fun, but the rest of the newcomers, not so much.

•   Chicago is 2-7-3 this season against the Lightning, Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes, having been out-scored 55-35 over those 12 games. The Lightning, Panthers, and Hurricanes sit not only at the top of the Central Division, but at the top of the NHL this season, ranking second, third, and fourth in the league based on points percentage.

•   This is all to say that the Blackhawks are facing likely the most adversity that they have had to face all season. We knew March was going to be a difficult month, but the Blackhawks have had some bright moments. Unfortunately, most of those bright moments have come crashing down in the form of blown multi-goal leads.

•   If Chicago can muster up some wins, or even get some points splits in the next handful of games in March, they can enter a more favorable stretch of the schedule in April with some confidence and hopefully some padding back in their cushion for the Central Division’s fourth and final playoff spot.

•   There could be some reinforcements coming to the Blackhawks rather soon to help out, too. Both Dylan Strome (concussion) and Kirby Dach (wrist surgery) have been skating with the team while on the current road trip and seem to be on schedule to return to the lineup soon. Dach has stated recently that there is no rushing his recovery, but that he is a bit ahead of schedule after having surgery on a broken wrist back in December.

•   Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman was on a live taping of the Blackhawks Insider Podcast on Wednesday, which was open to the public on Zoom as well. During the taping, Bowman touched on a number of topics, which you can read about here, including the fact that he believes both Dach and Strome will return to the Blackhawks very soon.

•   He also spoke about Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews. It was still mostly a non-update, but Bowman said he is in regular communication with Toews and that he seems to be in good spirits, but is not ready to return to hockey yet.

•   The narrative from the organization that I am getting surrounding Toews, who has been out this season with an undisclosed injury/illness, is that it’s not a matter of if he’ll come back to play, but more when he comes back to play. Take from that what you will, but it seems like things should be trending positively for him.

•   The Blackhawks have sent Brandon Pirri to the Rockford Ice Hogs:

•   A Happy Blackhawks Birthday to 2015 Stanley Cup Winner Kimmo Timonen!

•   Also, a happy eight-year anniversary to the Blackhawks on gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated, celebrating their historic 21-0-3 start to the 2013 season.

•   Speaking of historic, the New York Rangers put it on the Philadelphia Flyers last night, winning 9-0 and scoring seven goals in the second period alone in the process. Mika Zibanejad had a hat-trick and six points in the second period alone, the second player in NHL history to do so in one period of play.

•   This was made doubly impressive since the Rangers were being coached by their AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack coaching staff after the New York staff had to be placed in COVID Protocol prior to the game. They were headed up by Kris Knoblauch, a former Flyers assistant coach.

•   And finally, remember the 15-year-old WHL player I told you about earlier this week? Connor Bedard? Well, seems like the hype is real on this kid.

•   Four goals and four assists in his first four games in the WHL. Again, he’s 15-years-old playing against mostly other kids who are 17, 18, 19, even 20-years-old. Plan your teams tanking accordingly to try to get the top overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.

•   Have yourselves a good Thursday, and we’ll see you tonight for Blackhawks-Lightning, with plenty of #content to hold you over until then (your series preview is on the way!)



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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