Hunting the Predators, Renewed Rivalry Coming to a Close, Looking Ahead to 2021-22, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Hunting the Predators, Renewed Rivalry Coming to a Close, Looking Ahead to 2021-22, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night was not a good night for the Chicago Blackhawks and they didn’t even play a game. The Central Division playoff race is the focus for Chicago in the here and now, but they aren’t getting much help from the other teams in the Division.

The Nashville Predators re-gained their four-point lead over the Blackhawks with a staggering 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars closed the gap between them and Chicago by getting to overtime against the Florida Panthers. Chicago is in fifth-place in the Division, four points behind Nashville and now just three points clear of the Stars, with the Blackhawks having played two more games than Dallas at this point.

•   The Blackhawks now enter their final two-game series against the Detroit Red Wings this season in a send-off of the renewed rivalry this season. Chicago holds a 5-1-0 record against the Red Wings this season, so it hasn’t been the back and forth competitive rivalry of two bottom-feeder teams like some thought it would be, but it’s been fun nonetheless.

•   This is a series that the Blackhawks HAVE to come away with four points from. No excuses. The Red Wings just traded away Anthony Mantha and Jon Merrill, so their roster will be a bit more depleted of key players and, come on, it’s Detroit.

•   Chicago cannot fall into a trap of looking ahead of the Red Wings, though. The must take care of business against the lower opponent and then they can focus solely on the three-game set that will either make or break their season coming up against the Nashville Predators.

•   It’s been fun seeing the Blackhawks and Red Wings playing each other more than twice this season, not only because Chicago has been the better team, but it’s just great to have one of the longest standing rivalries in the NHL mean something again. Twice a year is not enough for these two historic franchises.

•   Following the upcoming two-game set against the Red Wings, the next nine games for the Blackhawks will be against teams in playoff position, with three against Nashville, the final game of the season against the Lightning, two games against the Panthers and then a three-game set against the Carolina Hurricanes. Again, the Blackhawks MUST earn all four points against the Red Wings.

•   It will be challenging for Chicago since they might be without defensemen Calvin de Haan and Adam Boqvist for the upcoming Detroit series.

•   With the possibility of Boqvist and de Haan being out, the Blackhawks have recalled Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell from the Rockford IceHogs to the Taxi Squad, along with goaltender Matt Tomkins.

•   It could be a big opportunity for one of Beaudin or Mitchell to get back into the lineup for Chicago after both showed promise early in the season that their development was on the right track. For Mitchell, his season began to stall before heading to the Taxi Squad/IceHogs rotation, while Beaudin was buried in the rotation all season, but played well in his 14 NHL games this season.

•   The move to bring Tomkins up is interesting. It doesn’t come at at time where the Blackhawks need more goalies for any injury reasons as Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban are completely fine to my knowledge, plus Collin Delia is there if injuries were the case. It could signal the Blackhawks placing Delia on waivers to head to the IceHogs to get game action as the season winds down in Rockford.

•   Delia has just two NHL games this season and four AHL games after playing on a conditioning assignment earlier this season. Following the trade deadline movement, now would be a safe time to send Delia through waivers, if the Blackhawks were at all concerned about a team claiming him.

•   Speaking of the IceHogs, they fell 4-1 to the Iowa Wild last night, but rookie Josiah Slavin extended his point-streak to four games with a short-handed goal.

•   Five points in four games for the rookie Slavin, who signed his entry-level deal this season with the Blackhawks after two years at Colorado College. He’s a prospect to keep your eye on as the Blackhawks look ahead to the next few years.

•   Speaking of looking ahead, I took a stab at making a 2021-22 Blackhawks lineup after the moves made during the NHL Trade Deadline. A lot of which hinges on the unknown health status of Jonathan Toews.

•   Also speaking of the 2021-22 Blackhawks, it sounds like that’s when fans will be allowed back in the United Center. The Athletic’s Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus reported this week that the United Center, while one of the few remaining NHL and NBA arenas to not allow fans in the stands in any capacity, will likely not allow fans back before the end of the NHL and NBA regular seasons.

•   Bummer.

•   Let’s bring the mood up with a Happy Blackhawks Birthday to rookie Wyatt Kalynuk!

•   And then bring the mood back down with this nugget about former Blackhawks star Artemi Panarin.

•   *sad Wolverine looking at picture frame*

•   That’s all for this Wednesday edition of bullets. Have yourselves a good one!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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