The Chicago Blackhawks have returned home from a disastrous road-trip that saw them go 1-5-0 and move their record to 2-6-1 in the month of March.
They have also fallen out of the current Central Division playoff picture with 33 points and a .516 points percentage, same as the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the Blue Jackets hold the current tiebreaker of regulation wins over Chicago. They’ve dropped six of their last seven games and their next mini-series, while back at the United Center, is against the Florida Panthers. The Blackhawks need some positive momentum to swing their way, soon.
• One thing that is a positive is that the Blackhawks only have to face the Tampa Bay Lightning once more this season. The final meeting is on April 27th at the United Center. Chicago is a dismal 1-5-1 against the Lightning this season, having been outscored 30-15 in the seven meetings. Mixed with the final game against the Lightning, the Blackhawks play the top three teams in the Central Division a combined 10 more times (four against the Panthers, five against the Carolina Hurricanes).
Remaining games: Hawks, Stars, Blue Jackets
FLA – 4
TB – 1
CAR – 5
DAL – 4
CB – 2
NASH – 6
DET – 2
FLA – 5
TB – 5
CAR – 4
HAWKS – 4
CB – 2
NASH – 4
DET – 4
FLA – 4
TB – 6
CAR – 3
DAL – 2
HAWKS – 2
NASH – 2
DET – 5
— Jimmy Greenfield (@jcgreenx) March 22, 2021
• Also good news, is that out of the three teams in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Central Division (Chicago, Dallas, and Columbus), the Blackhawks have to face the top three Divisional teams the least. Dallas has 14 more games against the top three and Columbus has 13 more games. If the Blackhawks can take care of their business against the teams in the hunt and below them, and get a couple of points against the top three teams, there’s a path for them to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
• While there’s positives and negatives to them getting into the postseason, (like the positive of being in the dance and getting the young players the playoff experience and the negative of missing out on a top draft opportunity) the Blackhawks are not going to roll over and tank out the season now.
• For one thing, Kirby Dach is nearing his return to the active roster. After being given a four-to-five month timetable for a return from broken wrist surgery, Dach looks like he is inching closer to being put back into the lineup well ahead of his April 28th early return date.
Kirby Dach continues practicing with the team. (Check out the high tip goal.) pic.twitter.com/B3dsWScgif
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) March 22, 2021
• The Blackhawks getting both Dach and Dylan Strome back into the lineup gives them a boost prior to the NHL trade deadline on April 12th and could serve as the “acquisitions” that Chicago makes heading into the final month of the season. The Blackhawks have a ton of cap space and could still make deals prior to or at the deadline, but they could consider themselves ahead of their schedule with Dach back in the lineup. So that would be good, too.
• Also good, the prospect of getting Collin Delia back in net for Chicago. After getting beaten-down in his first two starts of the season, Delia was shuffled back into the third goaltender position behind Malcolm Subban and Kevin Lankinen. He’s been there ever since as both Lankinen and Subban have had pretty big rebounds in net since their own rough starts. But with both of the Blackhawks’ usual goaltenders struggling as of late, Delia looks like he may finally get his chance to get his redemption start.
Blackhawks on the ice for practice in Chicago for the first time in 2 weeks.
That’s Collin Delia (!!!) in the far goal with the snazzy red pads. pic.twitter.com/s2qiHAEIvi
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 22, 2021
• Delia was getting more work than he usually would at Blackhawks practice today, signaling a chance he could see game action again soon. The last time he started for the Blackhawks was back on January 17th against the Florida Panthers. He was given a conditioning assignment to the Rockford IceHogs back in late-February, where he made four starts and went 2-2-0 with a 5.16 GAA and a .858 save percentage. The final two starts he made for the IceHogs are the ones to look at, winning back-to-back games and stopping 62 of 67 shots faced. With Lankinen and Subban regressing back down to Earth, now would be the time to give Delia his chance to get back in net and see if he can provide a spark for the Blackhawks. He’s waited and he deserves it.
• Speaking of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, the team took to the ice last night at home against the Iowa Wild. Before the game, the IceHogs honored the community frontline workers by wearing their names on the jerseys in warmups.
— Joseph Zakrzewski (@JoeyZRadio) March 21, 2021
• One, I love those alternate sweaters for the IceHogs, and two, this is just another great touch that the team has with the Rockford community. It’s great to know that the Blackhawks organization is making the investment in the team and the community to keep that relationship strong with the IceHogs.
• Also in the AHL last night, a bit of very important history was repeated. The Ontario Reign iced the first all-Black line in professional hockey since 1941.
History being made tonight. Not since the Black Aces have we seen an all-Black line in pro hockey. Herb Carnegie, Ozzie Carnegie & and Manny McIntyre are shining down on @SmithPelly23, @Byfield55 & @AkilThomas tonight. The line already has a goal in the 1st. #History #SoulOnIce pic.twitter.com/ChW5IjfICr
— Soul On Ice The Podcast (@SOIThePodcast) March 21, 2021
• L.A. Kings prospects Akil Thomas and Quinton Byfield were joined by veteran and recent Reign addition Devante Smith-Pelly to form the historic grouping. And they did not disappoint!
A hat trick in the final 3:07 of regulation.
One more in the shootout.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) March 22, 2021
• The Reign won in a shootout with Thomas scoring the game’s deciding goal in the extra frame. Paired with Thomas’ third-period hat-trick, the trio combined for six points on the night for Ontario. You love to see it.
• In college hockey news, the Chicago Blackhawks will have six of their NCAA prospects playing in the Men’s Frozen Four tournament beginning this Friday. Josh Ess, Landon Slaggert, Wyatt Kaiser, Jake Wise, Alex Vlasic, and Drew Commesso will be vying for the NCAA Championship, and the way that the bracket is lined up, there is a chance for five of the six prospects to make it to the Frozen Four. Good luck to all of them!
• Have yourselves a good Monday!