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Good News for Montreal, Fuel Stay Alive, “I Love Shin Pads!” and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

How are we all doing? Surviving without Stanley Cup Playoff hockey for one night? Good. We’re going to have to do it again for another night tonight, too. *GASP*

I know, cruel.

The good news is you can still get your playoff hockey fix (with a Blackhawks flavor to it) tonight.

•   The Indy Fuel held off elimination in the Kelly Cup Playoffs in Greenville last night with a 3-2 win over the Swamp Rabbits in the ECHL.

•   Down 2-0 in the best-of-five opening round series, the Fuel were facing a sweep against Greenville, but were powered by two-point nights from Willie Raskob and Peter Krieger, with Krieger scoring the eventual game-winning goal in the second period.

•   Game Four is tonight at 6:05 p.m. CT in Greenville, South Carolina, with the Fuel looking to even the series and force a Game Five back in Indianapolis on Monday night.

•   Speaking of the Blackhawks and the playoffs, while they are not in the current Stanley Cup Playoffs (duh!) this June is providing a mountain of memories from Stanley Cup years of old.

•   Yesterday put a bow on the memories from the summer of 2010, but today starts the memories of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final between Chicago and the Boston Bruins. Game One of that Final series was a classic triple-overtime thriller that provided a defining moment in Andrew Shaw’s Blackhawks legacy.

•   Shaw shouting “I love shin pads!” after scoring the triple-overtime winner off a deflection is one of those memories and sayings that will live forever in Blackhawks lore.

•   While this summer has been fun, well, bittersweet to look back at Blackhawks memories of old, there is a renewed focus on the future in the organization this summer as well. Yesterday was a big day in building that future as the Blackhawks signed 2020 first-round draft pick Lukas Reichel to his entry-level contract.

•   Reichel’s development is going to be a key focus this season as he makes the jump from the European game to the North American game and making his professional debut in the NHL and/or the AHL. This video from the Blackhawks showing Reichel and team development coach Kendall Coyne-Schofield going through his game film is an interesting (and obviously calculated by the organization) look into the process the team is taking with their newest young talent.

•   As I wrote yesterday, it would be wise for the Blackhawks to take their time with Reichel in his development. A lot of comparisons have been made to the 19-year-old forward with a former Blackhawks top prospect, turned NHL star, Teuvo Teravainen. Their build and skillset look very similar, but Reichel plays a bit more of a inside game now than Teravainen did at the beginning of his career. Chicago will likely want Reichel to jump into the NHL lineup and join the rest of the young talent that emerged this past season, so taking it slow may not exactly be the plan from the club.

•   One major factor on the plan for Reichel and other young Blackhawks players for next season is what Chicago does this offseason in the trade market and free agency. They have plenty of holes in the NHL lineup to fix heading into 2021-22 and this offseason provides the organization an opportunity to make real changes and steps forward back to contention in the NHL.

•   The Athletic’s Scott Burnside profiled a number of top free agent targets hitting the open market this offseason that have had their stock impacted by their performance in these Stanley Cup Playoffs. Highly recommend checking out the full list below.

•   Joel Armia is a player that Burnside lists in the article with his stock rising in the postseason. Hard to argue that with Armia being a driving force behind the Montreal Canadiens advancing to the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Armia, 28, has a $2.6M AVV deal expiring this summer with the Canadiens and could fit a need for the Blackhawks forwards group to be bigger, stronger, and better on the penalty-kill. At 6’4” and 215-pounds Armia’s ability to play on both wings and play effectively on the penalty-kill could be incredibly useful to Chicago at the right price. He has seven points in 11 games this postseason and if he continues this pace and Montreal continues to advance, he may price himself out of the Blackhawks plans, but still an underrated name to keep an eye on.

•   Tomorrow begins the Stanley Cup Semifinals with Montreal taking on the Vegas Golden Knights and the Tampa Bay Lightning taking on the New York Islanders in a rematch from last postseason. As we noted yesterday, none of the four Divisional winners are left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and for the first time since I was two years old, the final four teams all advanced over higher-seeded teams.

•   There are still plenty of former Blackhawks players still alive in these playoffs. With New York, we still have Nick Leddy. With Vegas, Robin Lehner and Mattias Janmark are still going, as is Dylan Sikura. With the Lightning, Jan Rutta is looking for his second Stanley Cup since leaving the Blackhawks. And with Montreal, former center Philip Danault and former defenseman Erik Gustafsson are still playing, as is Michal Frolik.

•   Speaking of good ol’ Gus Bus, check out the former Blackhawks defensive criticism lightning-rod getting reps with the Canadiens top powerplay unit…

•   It will always sting knowing what the Blackhawks got for the Gustafsson trade when they pulled the trigger at the deadline during the 2019-20 season and what they COULD have gotten had they traded him prior to that season, when his stock was highest.

•   Speaking of Montreal, again, great news for injured forward Jake Evans…

•   Evans, who was obliterated by Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele in Game One of the second round, returned to the ice today and did a workout on his own in his first skate back since suffering a concussion from the hit.

•   Still unclear when or if Evans will return in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, but an encouraging sign nonetheless.

•   A reminder: make sure to send in your Monday Mailbag questions for our upcoming mailbag segment! Use the hashtag on Twitter #BNHawksMailbag or you can email your questions to me using Mario.Tirabassi at bleachernation dot com!

•   That will do it for today. Enjoy your Saturday!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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