I’m not going to lie to you, I got my second COVID vaccine shot yesterday and just about 24 hours later, the soreness and body aches are hitting me. So this will be short and sweet and to the point.
The Chicago Blackhawks will not make the playoffs if they lose this game tonight against the Nashville Predators. They are 0-4-2 in six meeting this season and anymore dropped points, while the Dallas Stars continue to gain points and have games in-hand of the Blackhawks, will be the final nail in their postseason coffin.
• Chicago is coming off a 5-2 loss to the Predators in which they allowed four goals in a combined one minute and nine seconds. Kevin Lankinen was pulled for the first time this season, and the Predators put their clamps on the Blackhawks offensively. It’s been the same script pretty much all season between Chicago and Nashville and if we get an encore tonight, it’s over.
• I know this isn’t the hope and optimism some might be looking for, and I hate to be this down on the team when it’s late-April and they are technically still in the hunt, but there’s snow on the ground and I’m cranky.
• The Stars got another win over the Detroit Red Wings last night to extend their lead in points over the Blackhawks to three. And based on points percentage, they are in fourth-place in the Division ahead of Nashville. Dallas has one game in-hand over the Blackhawks and two in-hand over the Predators. Chicago and Dallas meet in Chicago to end the regular season with back-to-back games on May 9th and 10th.
• Chicago has ten games remaining this season, seven of which are at home. All ten are against teams that are ahead of them in the Central Division standings, including six games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes combined.
• If the Blackhawks are going to turn the ship around in dramatic fashion, they are going to need their team-leader in points this season, Patrick Kane, to be Superman. It’s hard to ask for MORE from Kane this season, but it’s the reality the Blackhawks are in with a young team fighting for playoff position, when most haven’t had that experience at the professional level. Kane is third in the NHL in points this season with 57 in 46 games and is second in the league in assists with 42. But his goal-scoring has been cold since the weather started to warm up.
It’s difficult to ask anything more of Patrick Kane, the NHL’s third-leading scorer this season.
But the Blackhawks have no choice but to do so. They need a heroic final 10 games from him.
New column: https://t.co/AuvFpXtxF9
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 21, 2021
• Kane started the season with 11 goals in the first 23 games in January and February, but since the calendar turned over to March, he has just four goals in 23 games. He has been a point per game player in that same 23-game stretch, but it’s a bit disappointing (I know that’s a selfish thing to say, but I said it) after he had 24 points in the month of February alone. He has yet to score against the Predators this season, the only team in the Central Division he has not scored on in 2021.
• We mentioned yesterday that there is a possibility that fans could be returning to the United Center before the NHL and NBA seasons are over. Ultimately what they may mean for the Blackhawks is that final two-game set against the Stars may have fans in attendance. Which is great, except for the fact that there is a high probability that those games will not matter to the playoff race for Chicago by that time. The Blackhawks’ next five games are at home between tonight and May 1st and I don’t expect a turnaround that quickly from the City and the United Center.
• While Chicago is still waiting to have fans in the stands, the Rockford IceHogs will officially be allowing fans to return for the final three home games of the AHL season. Season-ticket holders will register and be placed in a lottery for tickets to one of the three final home games at the BMO Harris Bank Center on May 1st, 9th, and 14th.
• A double Blackhawks Birthday today as Michel Goulet turns 61 and Ed Belfour turns 56!
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) April 21, 2021
• Finally, some European Blackhawks news, and no this doesn’t have anything to do with the Super League. Three prominent Chicago prospects are in the thick of their European league playoffs.
• By now I’m sure you have heard that 2011 draft pick and Scott Powers’ white whale, Max Shalunov, has been tearing up the KHL Gagarin Cup playoffs. With 16 points in 19 games, Shalunov is second on CSKA Moskva in scoring and his 11 playoff goals rank first. CSKA Moskva are tied 1-1 in the Gagarin Cup Final against Avangard Omsk.
Max Shalunov scored a power-play goal and was 8 of 15 on faceoffs in CSKA Moscow's 3-0 win against Avangard Omsk in Game 2 of the #GagarinCup Final to tie the series 1-1. Shalunov has scored 16 points, including a #KHL-high 11 goals in 19 playoff games. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/bVoi89PbLf
— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) April 20, 2021
• In the Finnish Liiga, newly acquired centerman Henrik Borgström has two assists in two games with HIFK as they are up 2-0 in their opening round series against Kärpät.
• In Germany, 2020 first-round pick Lukas Reichel had an assist in the opening game for Eisbären Berlin in the DEL playoffs. Eisbären Berlin is down 1-0 in their opening round series against Iserlohn Roosters. Reichel finished the season with 27 points in 38 games and ranked fifth on the team in scoring.
• That’s all for today, have yourselves a good Wednesday and we will see you tonight for Blackhawks and Predators at 6:00 p.m.!