The Chicago Blackhawks enter the day on the outside lookin in at the Central Division playoff picture, two points behind the Nashville Predators for fourth-place in the Division and the final playoff spot. That could all change by the end of the night if the Blackhawks are able to top the Dallas Stars and the Predators fall to the Detroit Red Wings. But given the way all four teams have been playing, I’m not holding my breath.
• The Blackhawks have played the Dallas Stars the least amount of games this season, with a 3-1-0 record in their four meetings. They have the second-best points percentage against the Stars (.750) the season of any of their Central Division foes, behind only the Red Wings (.833). Funnily enough, the Blackhawks have been outscored by the Stars 10-9 in their four meetings this season.
• Dallas and Nashville remain the only two teams against whom the Blackhawks have allowed only one powerplay goal this season. Chicago is 10-for-11 on the penalty-kill against the Stars this season, whose powerplay ranks sixth in the NHL at a 25.0% success rate. On the flip-side, the Blackhawks are 4-of-15 on the powerplay against the Stars this season.
• Chicago has been incredibly disciplined in their last stretch of games, taking just ten penalties in their last five games, which includes their six-penalty night against the Florida Panthers on March 25th. The Blackhawks have taken the fewest penalties in the NHL in that stretch of time, and have killed off nine of those ten, allowing a powerplay goal against to the Predators in their last time out.
• Chicago will need to continue their great work defensively and on the penalty-kill if they are to get out of their current slump, having lost four of their last five games, and ten of their last 14 games, all in regulation. At this point in the season, with where the Blackhawks are sitting in the standings, you cannot drop points in any fashion.
• One player that was expected to jump into the lineup and provide a boost into the playoff chase was 20-year-old Kirby Dach. Coming off of wrist surgery, Dach returned just about two weeks ago and has tallied two assists in five games played. He came back from broken wrist surgery a month ahead of schedule and admitted yesterday that he is still dealing with pain in his wrist.
Dach on his wrist: "Obviously there's pain with it. It's a 4-5 month injury and I've been playing with it after 3 months… But I don't see it as an excuse. If I'm playing, I'm expected to be 100% out there."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 5, 2021
• A bit concerning to hear from a cornerstone piece of the Blackhawks future. I’m still fine with him playing, it’s his and the team doctors’ decision, but knowing he is still playing through pain can explain why he hasn’t been the jolt some expected and gives me just a bit more of a worry for him being out there, although head coach Jeremy Colliton believes otherwise.
Jeremy Colliton on if Kirby Dach is at risk of further injury to wrist: "No. There's no way the medical staff and certainly the organization would have (cleared him if he wasn't ready). He's too important for us. And I wouldn’t be in favor of playing him if that were a concern."
— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) April 5, 2021
• Another player that is being added to the lineup rotation is former Blackhawks 2012 draft pick Vinnie Hinostroza. Reacquired from the Florida Panthers over the weekend, he was back on the ice with the Blackhawks yesterday and slotted into the second-line wing spot along with Dominik Kubalík and Philipp Kurashev with Carl Söderberg rotating in as well.
Said he talked to Colliton on the phone while driving up.
"He liked me when I was in Rockford…but he's not promising me anything. I just want an opportunity, a fair chance, and with my work and how I play, I think I can earn some time."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 5, 2021
• The addition of Hinostroza still is a head-scratcher to me, unless the Blackhawks are making more moves before the trade deadline on April 12th. It’s low-risk since they gave up Brad Morrison, a player who essentially meant nothing to the Blackhawks, for a player who could slot into the NHL lineup right away.
• If Chicago does end up moving a player like Söderberg or Mattias Janmark in the next week, then I get it and they wanted to have a player with more NHL experience to fill that roster spot. If not, I feel like you end up playing Hinostroza in a spot where a player like Brandon Hagel was excelling as a rookie this season.
• Today is the three-year anniversary of the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash. The accident, which happened in central Saskatchewan, claimed the lives of 16 members of the Junior Hockey club.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 6, 2021
• A shocking loss felt throughout the hockey world, Blackhawks rookie Ian Mitchell was impacted from the accident with the loss of his friend Logan Hunter. Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote about Mitchell’s connection to the accident and how he continues to honor the memory of his friend and those lost in the crash. Take a moment today to check that out.
• Switching gears but staying in the Junior hockey realm, the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four resumes on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Minnesota State takes on St. Cloud State, while UMass takes on Minnesota-Duluth with the winners facing off in the Championship game on Saturday. Chicago Blackhawks prospect Wyatt Kaiser is part of the Minnesota-Duluth squad that topped the No. 1 overall seed North Dakota in a five-overtime thriller to reach the Frozen Four.
• Unfortunately, COVID has had its hand in the NCAA tournament. Due to COVID complications, Notre Dame had to withdraw from the tournament before it even started and then Michigan had to do the same before their first-round game. Now, ahead of the biggest game of the season, UMass will be without four players.
— UMass Hockey (@UMassHockey) April 6, 2021
• Finally in the world of Connor Bedard, the 15-year-old had his 12-game point streak to start his WHL career snapped, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t provide a highlight in his 13th game of his Junior career.
Connor Bedard saw his career-long point streak end at 12 games and 22 points today.
But he still did this pic.twitter.com/4zWuTxbOnq
— /Cam Robinson/ is on spring break (@Hockey_Robinson) April 6, 2021
• Bedard, who again, is 15-years-old, is tied for second in the WHL in scoring with 22 points. He is tied with Jake Neighbours, a 2020 first-round pick by the St. Louis Blues, and one point behind Dylan Guenther, a 2021 first-round prospect in this year’s draft. I’ll never get over how good this kid is already.
• That’ll do it for today. Have a good Tuesday and we’ll see you tonight for Blackhawks and Stars at 7:00 p.m. CT!