Happy Father's Day, Pulock To The Recuse, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Happy Father’s Day, Pulock To The Recuse, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Be sure to send in your questions for Monday’s Mailbag segment! Use the hashtag #BNHawksMailbag on Twitter or send them to Mario.tirabassi at bleacher nation dot com! Can’t wait to see what you have for me this week.

•   What a night it was last night for the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning at the Nassau Coliseum. After taking a 3-0 lead over the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Islanders had to hold-off a late comeback from Tampa Bay, and Ryan Pulock played the ultimate hero as the Islanders tied the series 2-2 with a 3-2 win in Game Four.

•   It is really hard not to like what the Islanders are doing for the league. Part of me wants to see Vegas and Tampa Bay battle it out for the Stanley Cup because they are the best two teams left in the Semifinals, player-for-player, but the Canadiens and Islanders are proving that sometimes you just need to be built to win in the playoffs, rather than being built with talent only.

•   I know that doesn’t make a ton of sense but hey, welcome to Stanley Cup Playoff hockey.

•   The Islanders got on the board first last night in the second period with an absolute snipe from Josh Bailey for his sixth goal of the postseason.

•   Bailey has got to be one of the more underrated in these playoffs. He is tied for the lead on the Islanders in points with 13 in 16 games.

•   Later in the second period, the Islanders extended their lead with Mat Barzal scoring his sixth goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

•   They don’t get much easier than that!

•   Nassau Coliseum was rocking as the Islanders poured it on in the second period on the Lightning, adding a third goal in the period from Matt Martin to extend their lead to 3-0 heading into the second intermission.

•   But these are still the Tampa Bay Lightning and they still have Brayden Point, so no lead is safe.

•   He cannot stop scoring goals.

•   In just 59 Stanley Cup Playoff games, Brayden Point is already third all-time in Lightning franchise history for postseason goals with 34. He only trails Ondrej Palat (35 goals in 107 games) and Nikita Kucherov (41 goals in 105 games) for the all-time lead, but both of those players are still active.

•   Three minutes after Point’s goal, the Lighting would cut the New York lead to 3-2 with Tyler Johnson’s second goal of the postseason. The Islanders would try to hold-off the Lightning’s comeback efforts and it would all come to a wild finish in the final seconds. With the game on Ryan McDonagh’s stick and Semyon Varlamov on a goalie adventure, Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock played the hero. Look at this open net:

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)

•   OH. MY. GOD.

•   First off, Kenny Albert and Eddie Olczyk’s call on the play was fan-freakin-tastic. I know Albert gets some guff from fans, but I think he and Olczyk are going to be a great pair for Turner Sports moving forward.

•   The play by Pulock to get to the net and the wherewithal to not just try to stack up in the net before the shot, but rather be in position to make the reactionary save, is incredible.

•   That’s the kind of play and moment that can turn a series on its head. If that puck goes in, we’re tied 3-3, heading to overtime, and the Lightning have a opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead back to Tampa. Instead, it’s all-square at 2-2 thanks to Pulock.

•   Incredible action. Imagine not liking the sport of hockey? (There’s plenty surrounding the sport not to love, we’ll get to that. But just the actual action on the ice.)

•   Islanders and Lightning head to Tampa for Game Five on Monday night, 7:00 p.m. CT puck drop, with the series tied 2-2. Tonight, the Montreal Canadiens have an opportunity to take a surprising 3-1 series lead over the Vegas Golden Knights as they host Game Four at the Bell Centre with a 2-1 series lead. Puck drop tonight is at 7:00 p.m. CT.

•   Elsewhere in the NHL yesterday, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy was awarded to Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin. The award is handed out annually to the NHL player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

•   Jaccob Slavin, the older brother of Chicago Blackhawks prospect Josiah Slavin and an alum of the Chicago Steel, played 52 games this season and amassed just two penalty minutes all season. He finishes as one of just three players to play 50 or more games this season and record two or fewer penalty minutes. He did so while playing 22:59 minutes per game, the most of all Carolina defensemen.

•   Yes, absurd is the correct word to use. JEEEEZ.

•   It’s crazy to me that only four defensemen have won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, which usually gets judged mostly based on players who take the fewest penalties in a season and play a clean game. Slavin becomes the fourth defenseman to win the award and it is just the sixth time since the award was first handed out in 1924-25 that a defenseman has won the award. As a defenseman, playing a clean game and not taking penalties is a huge challenge, but a lot of guys do it and do it very effectively.

•   The last defenseman to win before Slavin was former Blackhawks Stanley Cup winner Brian Campbell with the Florida Panthers in 2011-12. Before him, it was Detroit’s Red Kelly in 1951, 1953, and 1954 with Bill Quackenbush being the first defenseman to win the award in 1948-49.

•   The last Blackhawks player to win the award was Stan Mikita in 1967-68.

•   Here is a full breakdown of the voting for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:

•   Chicago Blackhawks on the list included Patrick Kane (18th), Alex DeBrincat (26th), and…Kevin Lankinen (52nd)?

•   Ah, here’s why. Fair point by Ben.

•   In Chicago yesterday, former Blackhawks defenseman Stephen Johns took his #MentalMiles to the lakefront. It was a HOT one yesterday, so I don’t blame him for wanting to cool off!

•   Johns continues his cross-country rollerblading journey as he heads up north to my home state of Wisconsin.

•   If you’re out there, look for where he is headed next and grab those skates!

•   Another name for the Blackhawks’ shopping list?

•   Larry “I guess that’s what I’m saying, Brooksie” Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that the Blackhawks have interest in trading for disgruntled Buffalo Sabres Captain and former second-overall draft pick Jack Eichel. More on this later, but for now, add him to the list of potential (fictional?) offseason targets for Chicago. A list that already includes Dougie Hamilton and Seth Jones.

•   In case you missed it, there had been little from the Chicago big media outlets about the sexual assault lawsuit(s) being brought against the Blackhawks, outside of the original report from WBEZ, of course. But yesterday we saw a number of outlets start to talk about the lawsuits and the issues surrounding the organization, including current front office members Stan Bowman and Al MacIsaac. I recommend reading the latest from The Athletic’s Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus on the news:

•   Like a lot of us as fans of the team, this is a difficult reality to face. The organization, influenced and covered by the toxic culture of the sport of hockey, is rotten. These allegations are not the first of their kind, in nature, involving the Blackhawks and there are likely other issues and incidents we don’t know about and never will. But it is a continuation of the black clouds and grey skies that always hover over 1901 West Madison Street.

•   Ok, shift gears.

•   A Happy Blackhawks Birthday to goaltender Collin Delia, who turns 27 today!

•   Today is also Father’s Day, so a happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! Take a minute to read this great piece from The Athletic’s Scott Burnside on the many Hockey Dads around the NHL and what their kids have learned for them over the years.

•   From the Blackhawks, defenseman Calvin de Haan is celebrating with his Dad out on the lake.

•   And from newly retired Andrew Shaw, a “great” Dad-joke…

•   That will do it for today, go enjoy your Sunday and again, Happy Father’s Day!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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