DeBrincat Eyeing the Rocket, the End of March, All Eyes on the Central, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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DeBrincat Eyeing the Rocket, the End of March, All Eyes on the Central, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

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.

•   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.

•   Maybe the NHL Twitter account can work some of its magic on Nashville?

•   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.

•   Don’t be so sure, new Dad Dylan.

•   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.

•   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.

•   Also scoring for the Blackhawks last night was Alex DeBrincat, netting his team-leading 19th goal of the season.

•   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.

•   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.

•   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.

•   Finally, a Happy 50th Birthday to NHL legend Pavel Bure!

•   That’s all for today! Have a good Wednesday and remember, today is March 31st and it’s a real day.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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