With a win last night over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Chicago Blackhawks kept pace in the Central Division playoff chase. With their win, paired with the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets win, Chicago remains tied with the Predators based on points (39) while Nashville holds the regulation wins tiebreaker. Chicago has a two-point cushion over the Blue Jackets and a seven-point cushion over the Dallas Stars.
Chicago didn’t dominate the Hurricanes in the win – quite the opposite, in fact – but they were able to be good enough offensively for long enough to weather the storm for the other 55 minutes of action. Hopefully the win can boost the confidence of the team after having been swept in a two-game series against Nashville last weekend.
Murphy on protecting 3rd pd leads: "We talked about a lot of stuff as a team this morning, knowing how to play as a group together when these games are on the line… They got their looks, but as it got into the crunch time of the game, guys were desperate to help each other out.
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 31, 2021
• This is playoff time now for the Blackhawks. After a grueling schedule in March, Chicago is still in the hunt for the postseason and although they are having trouble finding some consistencies in their game, getting a win over a quality team like the Hurricanes can give you positive takeaways to roll into the next game and hopefully into April.
• Chicago finished March with a 5-8-1 record. Heading into last night’s game, only the Buffalo Sabres had earned fewer points in the standings than the Blackhawks, but with the win it is now Buffalo and the Los Angeles Kings who have fewer points than Chicago. So take that!
• April has the makings of being a much more lenient schedule for Chicago as they will face teams that are even with or below them in the standings in 10 of the 13 games in the month. They will book-end the month with Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes and games against the Tampa Bay Lighting and Florida Panthers on April 27th and 29th.
• Chicago holds a 12-6-2 record against the teams that are even with or below them in the standings, and if you remove the Predators, they are 12-4-0. But it is now the Predators who the Blackhawks will have to leapfrog to grab a form hold of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. A team that Chicago has not beaten yet this season and is surging at the right time of the year.
The @PredsNHL extended their win streak to six games, the longest active run in the NHL and their longest since a franchise-record 10-0-0 stretch in 2017-18.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 31, 2021
• Maybe the NHL Twitter account can work some of its magic on Nashville?
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) March 31, 2021
• Last night’s win was the second this season when the Blackhawks are held under 20 shots on goal. Chicago has twice this season been held to just 16 shots on goal, and twice they came away winners.
Dylan Strome: "You’re not going to win too many games in the NHL when you only get 16 shots."
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) March 31, 2021
• Don’t be so sure, new Dad Dylan.
Strome on his last few days: "It's pretty crazy, becoming a dad."
Said he stayed overnight at the hospital and hasn't gotten much sleep lately.
"Everyone's happy and healthy. It's a pretty cool feeling."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 31, 2021
• Dylan Strome missed Sunday’s game against Nashville due to the birth of his daughter and returned to the Blackhawks’ lineup last night. We talked about his “new Dad strength” heading into the matchup, semi-jokingly, but it’s not a joke. New Dad Strength is real.
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) March 31, 2021
• Strome netted his sixth goal of the season to open the scoring last night. It’s just the second even-strength goal of the season for Strome, but a great way to come back to the lineup.
Dylan Strome has scored in:
• 1st game of the year
• 1st game back from concussion protocol
• 1st game back after birth of his daughter #Blackhawks
— Carter Baum (@CarterBaum) March 31, 2021
• Also scoring for the Blackhawks last night was Alex DeBrincat, netting his team-leading 19th goal of the season.
KANER and the CAT. 🎬
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) March 31, 2021
• It took 33 games this season for DeBrincat to surpass his goal total (18) from the 2019-20 campaign. His 19 goals this season rank him tied for fourth in the NHL with Leon Draisaitl, only behind Mikko Rantanen (20), Connor McDavid (21), and Auston Matthews (23).
• Out of 33 players who have at least 100 shots on goal this season, DeBrincat is at the top of the NHL with an 18.8% shooting percentage. He is also averaging the 13th-most minutes per game (20:26) amongst forwards in the NHL this season
• With 19 goals in 33 games, DeBrincat is scoring at a .57 goals per game pace. That pace over an 82-game season would net him 47 goals, which would be a career-high.
• Also shining in last night’s win was goaltender Kevin Lankinen, picking up his 13th win of the season with a 31-save performance.
Denying 31 of 32 shots in helping his @NHLBlackhawks defeat the Hurricanes 2-1 on Tuesday night, rookie netminder Kevin Lankinen recorded his 13th win in the NHL. As this list shows, that trails only 2 goalies in CHI franchise history when it comes to their first 25 career games pic.twitter.com/PZyqGYbsaz
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) March 31, 2021
• Without his play this season, Lankinen and the Blackhawks would not be in the playoff chase. He holds a .921 save percentage this season and a 2.65 GAA in 25 games played. He has two shutouts on the year as well.
• Since the 2009-10 season, there have been 22 instances of a goalie playing at least 25 games in a season for the Blackhawks, spread amongst 11 different goalies. Lankinen’s .921 save percentage so far this season ranks sixth out of 22, ahead of Robin Lehner’s tenure with the Blackhawks last season.
• Other Blackhawks news outside of last night’s game, there have been two new signings to the organization. Yesterday, the Blackhawks made it official with NCAA free agent Mike Hardman from Boston College. Hardman signed a two-year deal that will run through next season, and will immediately report to the Chicago taxi squad.
Colliton on signing Mike Hardman:"He’s a big body, and he skates well, and he’s played with top players and been a contributor on offensive lines. He’s coming here, kind of get a look at him. He’s going to have to quarantine. But we’ll see when we get him on the ice.”
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) March 31, 2021
• The other signing happened this morning as Chicago signed 2020 fifth-round pick Isaak Phillips to his entry-level contract. Phillips has been playing with the Rockford IceHogs this season, due to the pandemic having shut down the OHL for most of this season. Phillips is the first player from the 2020 Draft Class to sign an NHL contract with the club.
My goodness what a way to score your first professional goal.
Isaak Phillips with his first of the season and what a beauty it was. pic.twitter.com/7CxImcEVx3
— Thomas Mercier 🎙️ (@TJM_PlayByPlay) February 17, 2021
• Finally, a Happy 50th Birthday to NHL legend Pavel Bure!
Happy Birthday to the Russian Rocket, Pavel Bure! 🎉
— NHL (@NHL) March 31, 2021
• That’s all for today! Have a good Wednesday and remember, today is March 31st and it’s a real day.
— out of context parks and rec (@nocontextpawnee) March 31, 2021