Make or Break Series, Subban's Shutty, Ads on Sweaters, and Other Blackhawks Notes

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Make or Break Series, Subban’s Shutty, Ads on Sweaters, and Other Blackhawks Notes

Chicago Blackhawks

Before stepping onto the ice last night as the starter, Malcolm Subban had not played a game for the Chicago Blackhawks since March 28th. And in a must-win scenario, Subban delivered a 29-save shutout, his second of the season, and the Blackhawks took care of business against the Red Wings 4-0.

With the win, paired with a regulation loss by the Nashville Predators at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Blackhawks are now just two points behind the Predators in the Central Division playoff race. Just behind the Blackhawks are they Dallas Stars, also winners last night, just one point behind Chicago. Up next for the Blackhawks is a three-game series against the Predators with one road game and two home games, which will close the season series with Nashville. Chicago is still looking for their first win over the Predators this season and this week seems like as good a time as any to get their first one. Or two. Or three.

•   The Blackhawks had a night to forget when it comes to taking penalties last night. After coming into the game as one of the least penalized teams in the league over a ten-game stretch, Chicago was forced to kill-off six Detroit powerplays. Luckily, they did that, with the help of Subban in net.

•   The win last night for Subban snapped a three-game losing streak for him and moved his record to 5-5-1 this season with a .911 save-percentage and a 2.86 GAA.

•   Kevin Lankinen had started 17 of the last 20 games for the Blackhawks and looked like he was running low on gas in Thursday night’s game. It’s hard to jump right on the ice after three weeks on the bench, but that was the plan all along for Subban.

•   Subban was called on a number of times to keep the Blackhawks in the game last night and he answered every bell. The 29 shots he faced is tied for the second-fewest he has seen in a game all season. He’s seen 29 shots two other times this year, a win over the Red Wings on February 15th and a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 20th, with the fewest shots he’s seen this season being a 26-save shutout against the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 25th.

•   Something about playing in Detroit this season was a lot of fun for the Blackhawks as they recorded two shutouts and a 3-1-0 record at Little Caesars Arena.

•   Now the Blackhawks turn their attentions to the Nashville Predators, who hold a two-point lead over the Blackhawks and a three-point lead over the Stars for fourth-place in the Central Division and the final Stanley Cup Playoff spot.

•   As was stated before, the Blackhawks are still searching for their first win over the Predators this season, having an 0-3-2 record through five meetings. Chicago has had the least offensive success of any Central Division opponent this season against Nashville with just six goals scored in five games. Even against the Lightning in seven meetings this season, the Blackhawks have scored 15 goals.

•   The Blackhawks will have to figure out Nashville’s stifling defensive performances if they are to find success and keep their playoff hopes alive for the 2021 season. Chicago has 11 games remaining and the next nine in-a-row are against teams in a playoff spot, while the final two games of the season are against the Stars, who are just one point behind Chicago. The mood is tense.

•   Kind of? This IS the playoffs. Right here and now.

•   Speaking of the playoffs in the regular season, the AHL will not be holding the Calder Cup Playoffs this season, for the second year in-a-row. The Rockford IceHogs have not had a ton of success this year in the win columns, but picked up a comeback win over the Chicago Wolves last night in the shootout, 4-3. Helping the IceHogs get to the overtime period was second-year forward MacKenzie Entwistle with a slick move for the game-tying goal.

•   Entwistle has had an interesting season, being one of the top forwards in Rockford and making his NHL debut with the Blackhawks earlier this season. He has nine points in 18 games with the IceHogs this season, but is playing from behind a bit physically this year after revealing he had a positive COVID cases earlier this season.

•   A stark reminder, if we really needed one again, that even physically conditioned, young athletes are having issues with COVID. This is still not something you want to get. Wear a mask and get the vaccine when you can.

•   More good news around the Chicago hockey world as the Chicago Steel continue their dominance in the USHL.

•   Congrats, boys!

•   Shifting back to the NHL and news swirling now that ads on sweaters might be coming to the NHL in the next few seasons.

•   We knew this day would come eventually. After the NBA went through a trial run of ads on jerseys and found the financial benefit vastly outweighed the small inconvenience of adding a patch to the jersey, they kept the ads and sponsorships for good. The NHL is likely going to go through the same process. Ads on helmets were added this season to help with the financial losses of COVID and they have done nothing to tarnish the proud legacy of the NHL that some hockey purists worried about. If the league doesn’t allow team to becoming skating billboards like in Europe, I have no problems with adding a revenue stream for teams and the league.

•   Finally, on this day in 1999, Wayne Gretzky skated in his 1,487th and final NHL game.

•   “The Great One” will never be matched in the NHL ever again. Not in my lifetime at least.

•   That’s all for today, have yourselves a Sunday!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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