The Chicago Blackhawks played 20 good minutes of hockey least night. That’s not going to get it done. We’re 41 games into the season, and at this point, partial efforts are no longer acceptable if you are trying to convince us that the Blackhawks are a playoff contender. The light is fading and the potential for lottery ball to be in Chicago’s future is becoming more and more of a reality.
• Chicago dropped a 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars last night. They held a 1-1 tie after the first period, but allowed four unanswered goals in the second and third period to pound the hammer on the nail in the coffin once more. It’s not all the way nailed shut, but it’s getting down there.
• The loss, compounded with the Nashville Predators running the Detroit Red Wings out of the building, 7-1 last night, Chicago falls four points behind the Predators for fourth-place in the Central Division. Both teams have 15 games left to play, including three against each other later this month.
• A big problem for the Blackhawks recently has been their powerplay. Once the best in the league, scoring at a better than 30% rate at times, the man-advantage for Chicago has been ice-cold in their last handful of games. With last night’s 0-for-3 effort, the Blackhawks have converted just once in their last 20 opportunities since March 27th. In that span of time, Chicago is 2-5-0.
Kubalik on the the recent power play progblems: "We should shoot more a little bit and have more guys around. We have a lot of great players to figure it out."
— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) April 9, 2021
• Kubalík has a point. The Blackhawks do WAY too much standing around and waiting for something to happen on the powerplay. When they were scoring regularly and were dangerous on the man-advantage, the Blackhawks were moving the puck and moving their feet. You cannot expect to hand Patrick Kane the puck and expect him to do the work. When things are getting hard, simplify the game. Get traffic in front of the net and fire away, at some point you’re going to be a bounce or a rebound to go your way.
• There was a turning point in the game early in the second period that the Blackhawks had no response to. Starting the second period on a powerplay, Dylan Strome and Andrew Cogliano collided at the Stars’ blue line. The contact was initiated by Cogliano as he pursued Kirby Dach with the puck and Strome was skating away from the action and trying to stay onside. An interference call was made on Strome and the powerplay was negated. Dallas scored almost immediately at four-on-four after a turnover by Nikita Zadorov and the floodgates were open.
Kubalik: "We need those games. The first period was pretty good, and then they scored a couple and we just didn't respond. Obviously frustrating but we've got to let it go."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 9, 2021
• Chicago had no answer, no response to the adversity of losing the powerplay and giving up the eventual game-winning goal shortly after. They allowed three more goals after that with little to no response. After the game, Connor Murphy spoke about the response of the team.
“That's been a bit of a theme with our losses is that we seem to be a little bit fragile. Instead of picking each other up after a mistake on a goal or a shift where they're on us, we don't seem to be responding very well."
– #Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy
— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) April 9, 2021
• Head coach Jeremy Colliton had a different view of things.
Colliton on Connor Murphy using the term "fragile": “Uh, I don’t know. I’m not sure. Probably not how I would quite describe it. We got to be willing to stick with it longer, when you’re doing the right thing and don’t get rewarded, doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing.”
— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) April 9, 2021
• This is a bit confusing and a bit troubling to me. I’ll talk about it later today, but the disconnect between the coach and the player in what is happening on the bench and in the locker room is not a good indication that everyone is on the same page and pulling the rope in the same direction.
• The Blackhawks blowing multi-goal leads and letting games get away from them has been too common this season for Murphy’s comments to be taken as misguided. There’s something there and I don’t like it.
• Chicago is dropping way too many points at a crucial time of the season. This is not the right direction to be heading this late in a season.
Blackhawks about to fall to 5-11-0 in the last 16 games. Not one of those games has gone to overtime, oddly enough.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 9, 2021
• Elsewhere in the Division, the Predators are going in thew complete opposite direction. If this keeps up for another week, it’ll be over for Chicago before they even get the chance to play the Predators again.
The Predators were 11-16-1 less than a month ago and 10 points out of a playoff spot. Matt Duchene is out. Ryan Ellis is out. Filip Forsberg is out. Countless others have been injured.
This 11-2 run is remarkable.
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) April 9, 2021
• Maybe the highlight of the night came before the puck even dropped. A season-long journey for Patrick Kane and Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk came to a triumphant conclusion last night as Tommy finally caught the puck from Patrick!
HE'S DONE IT!
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 9, 2021
• Biggest news story of the night for the Blackhawks, if you ask me.
• The biggest news of the day for the Blackhawks came earlier in the morning in the form of a six-asset trade between Chicago and the Florida Panthers. The Blackhawks sent a pair of Lucas’ (Lucas Carlsson and Lucas Wallmark) to the Panthers in exchange for Brett Connolly, Riley Stillman, Henrik Borgström, and a 2021 seventh-round pick. Looking at the trade, it’s a bunch of maybes and a draft pick exchanging hands.
• Coming out of the deal, I feel the Blackhawks got a good return for two players who were not going to find their way back into the lineup this season and had been edged out in a numbers game, unfortunately. The addition of Connolly gives Chicago an NHL-ready forward that has reached the 20-goal mark once in his career in the 2018-19 season and flirted with it again last season (19 goals in 69 games). Stillman is a different style of defenseman than the Blackhawks have in their system and could benefit from a change of scenery from the Panthers organization.
• The biggest asset in the deal for Chicago is Borgström. A former 2016 first-round pick for the Panthers, Borgström hasn’t been able to put all of his potential together in his time playing professionally. But, he is far from a bust at this point in his career.
Stan Bowman on Henrik Borgström: "There's tremendous upside. Obviously, he has to turn that potential into reality. But he's the kind of player you get excited to work with and we certainly want to do that next season." #Blackhawks
— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) April 8, 2021
• Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman loves getting other team’s former first-round picks and trying to make them into something special with the Blackhawks. Dylan Strome, Alex Nylander, Brendan Perlini, and Viktor Tikhonov come to mind. While some of them have panned out better than others, there’s potential still there with Borgström. Chicago only acquired his rights in the deal, he’s currently playing with HIFK in the Finnish Liiga this season, and would need to be signed to a contract with the Blackhawks to play in Chicago next season.
Borgström is eligible for the expansion draft even without a contract, @CapFriendly confirms.
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 8, 2021
• The prospect system in Chicago is not the deepest at the center position beyond Kirby Dach, and I wouldn’t consider him a prospect anymore. Borgström gives them some depth and size (6’3″, 200 pounds) in their system down the middle and if he turns out to be anything better than a third-line center for the Blackhawks, it’s gravy.
• Speaking of the Blackhawks farm system, the Rockford IceHogs got their first win this season over the Chicago Wolves on Wednesday night. In the 4-3 win, the IceHogs were paced by Brandon Pirri scoring a hat-trick in just his third game with the IceHogs this season.
Brandon Pirri has played in three of Rockford's 20 games. He is second on the team in goals with five.
— Jon Fromi (@JonFromi) April 8, 2021
• Pirri has played in just four hockey games this season between the Blackhawks (1) and the IceHogs (3). The back and forth season for Pirri on the transaction wire has got to be frustrating, but Pirri has taken it in stride as a 10-year professional.
• It was awesome to see Pirri’s demeanor in his postgame media call after the hat-trick. He was energized and talked about just being happy to get into a game and get to play. I hope he gets more ice-time with the IceHogs as they close out their regular season.
With the Hat-Trick tonight, Brandon Pirri is now 2nd all-time in #IceHogs history with 73 goals. He trails Jeremy Morin (90) for the all-time lead.
Pirri said after the game "Jeremy texted me when I got here earlier this year and said don't you dare get hot."
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) April 8, 2021
• In other farm system news, Blackhawks 2020 third-round draft pick Wyatt Kaiser and Minnesota-Duluth went to overtime AGAIN in the Men’s Frozen Four tournament last night. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were not able to come out on top this time as they fall 3-2 in overtime to UMass.
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) April 9, 2021
• Kaiser was heavily deployed in the third period and overtime for Minnesota-Duluth and was playing incredibly well for what was on the line. Kaiser was one of just two true freshman (18-years-old) for Minnesota-Duluth this season. He finished the year with 10 assists in 28 games.
• That’s all for today, have yourselves a Friday!