Old Man Strength, That Staal She Wrote, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Old Man Strength, That Staal She Wrote, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

After seeing the Edmonton Oilers get swept by the Winnipeg Jets, teams are on upset alert in these Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although, credit where it’s due for the Jets, they did exactly what they needed to shutdown the Oilers and exploit their weaknesses in their four-game effort. They shouldn’t be put down. But with the Carolina Hurricanes in a tied series with the Nashville Predators and the New York Islanders already leading the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in their series, another four-seed had an opportunity to take control of their matchup. That wouldn’t be the case.

•   If you’re like me, you are rooting for the Carolina Hurricanes in their matchup with the Nashville Predators. If you need reasons why the Hurricanes are awesome and you should root for them, check out our handy playoff rooting guide for Blackhawks fans.

•   Down 2-1 in the third period, Martin Necas decided to take matters into his own hands.

•   Necas’ second goal of the game and second of the postseason tied it up at 2-2 and we were headed for yet another overtime period.

•   Seriously, this is getting ridiculous/awesome.

•   The last three games for the Hurricanes and Predators have gone to overtime, with the two prior to last night going to double-overtime. Thankfully, Carolina Captain Jordan Staal saved our bedtimes…

•   Staal’s fourth goal of the postseason gives the Hurricanes a 3-2 series lead as they head to Nashville to try to close things out in front of what will be an absolutely raucous crowd at the Bridgestone Arena.

•   A series with less drama, the Toronto Maple Leafs have won three-straight games against the Montreal Canadiens after Montreal won the opening game of the series. Last night’s effort in a 4-0 win was powered by the old guys on the Maple Leafs as Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton turned the clocks back.

•   That’s former Canadien Alex Galchenyuk saucing it to the 37-year-old Spezza for the 2-0 goal in the first period. It was Spezza’s second goal of the series and Galchenyuk’s second assist of the game.

•   Spreading the old guy magic around, Spezza found Thornton on the doorstep for the 3-0 goal, his first goal of the postseason.

•   Spezza and Thornton are two of the oldest players playing in these playoffs and combining on that goal put them high on a list of guys with serious “old man strength.”

•   Thornton is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, but that goal puts him amongst other Hall of Fame-caliber talent to score on the man-advantage.

•   It would be awesome for him to win the Stanley Cup. If the Hurricanes can’t do it, I want Thornton and the Leafs to do it.

•   Not to be lost in the series is the performance in net by Jack Campbell for Toronto. He notched his first career playoff shutout in the 4-0 win last night and has stopped 114 of 118 shots faced in his first four Stanley Cup Playoff games.

•   A career backup so far through his time in the NHL after being the 11th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Campbell is making a case for him to be a longer-term option in net for the Maple Leafs, especially with the inconsistency of Frederik Andersen.

•   The Maple Leafs now have a 3-1 series lead over the Canadiens heading back to Toronto with a chance to win the first playoff series since 2004. If they do end up winning in Game Five, the Canadiens will not be able to host fans at the Bell Centre in Game Six, which would be the first event with fans in attendance in Canada since the COVID-19 Pandemic shutdown back in March 2020. I kind of just want the Leafs to lay down in Game Five so we can get a Canadian crowd in the building for Game Six.

•   Not that you needed a reminder of the craziness of the past year-plus in the World, but yesterday was the one-year mark since the death of George Floyd. Before both games last night, the NHL held moments of reflection to honor Floyd and make a point about combating individual and systemic racism.

•   Something like this is not normally seen with the NHL, or when it is, it’s usually largely fumbled. But this was the right way for the league to be actionable and recognize the work that has been done and continues to need to be done to address and eventually end racism, sexism, and homophobia around the league and the sport of hockey.

•   Accompanying the moments held before both games, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wrote about what the league has done, continues to do, and needs to work on to not only be allies to those marginalized people, but also be leaders in changing the way that those groups are treated and to be more inclusive as a league and as a sport. You can read the full piece below.

•   I appreciated Bettman’s recognition that the NHL has consistently goofed their efforts in the past and that they have been working with the right people to change the way they handle these topics and situations. It will take much more work and time, but there are steps going in the right direction.

•   In other news surrounding the league, yesterday Wayne Gretzky stepped down from his Vice Chairman position with the Edmonton Oilers and reportedly was heading to TNT to be a part of their new NHL broadcasting coverage. Well, it’s official now…

•   Also being made official by Turner Sports, something we already knew was coming, Kenny Albert and Eddie Olczyk will be the top broadcast pairing for games on Turner Sports as they become joint-broadcast homes for the NHL along with ESPN starting next season.

•   In Blackhawks news internationally, six players and prospects in action today at the IIHF World Championships.

•   We’ve already seen final scores for the early games as Russia took care of Denmark in a 3-0 win and Kazakhstan upset the Germans 3-2 in regulation. It’s Germany’s first loss in the tournament and Kazakhstan’s first regulation win. They have three wins overall in four games.

•   The news coming out of the early games for the Blackhawks surrounded 2020 first-round pick Lukas Reichel, who took a hit to the head in the first period against Kazakhstan. No call on the play. Fortunately, Reichel was able to return to the game in the second period.

•   I know the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been terrible in the way of officiating games, but I guess the IIHF is going to be just as bad. How do you not make a call on that hit RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU??

•   Don’t touch Lukas, is all I’m saying.

•   That’ll do it for today. Have a good Wednesday!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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