Entwistle's Big Night, PK Problems, Big Pillows for Short Flights, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Entwistle’s Big Night, PK Problems, Big Pillows for Short Flights, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Good morning! I hope you had a good night’s sleep on a comfortable pillow after the Blackhawks topped the Red Wings last night 6-4 after blowing a three-goal lead twice and allowing four powerplay goals to Detroit. It wasn’t the performance you’d have liked to see out of a lineup of mostly NHL players, but there was enough there from Marc-André Fleury and a number of depth forwards to come away with Chicago’s second win in the preseason.

•   Listen, a 30-minute flight didn’t seem like a long enough time to fall asleep. I truly envy anyone who can get a real nap on a plane in 30 minutes or less.

•   Maybe Fleury, who is not on social media, somehow saw my tweet and decided to prove to me why getting that 30-minute nap on the plane ride was important.

•   Last night was the first time Fleury played the entire game for the Blackhawks after splitting time with Collin Delia against the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.

•   With a 5-4 lead late in the game, Fleury came up with the save of the preseason so far for the Blackhawks, denying Robby Fabbri of what surely was going to be the game-tying goal.

•   The reaction of Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk on the broadcast perfectly emulated what I’m sure most Blackhawks fans were also saying last night as Fleury made that game-saving glove save. All in a preseason days work, right?

•   Fleury was hung out to dry on the powerplay last night, so his final stats for the game are a bit deceiving. He stopped 36 of 40 shots total, but at even-strength, Fleury was a perfect 26-for-26. Of the six goals he has given up this preseason, five have come while on the penalty-kill, having made 37-of-38 saves at even-strength in four and a half periods of play.

•   Please accept my apology.

•   The goal support from the Blackhawks looked like it was going to be bountiful early in the game as newcomer Tyler Johnson scored his first preseason goal with the Blackhawks, coming on the powerplay.

•   Two minutes later, another Blackhawks newcomer made it 2-0 as Jake McCabe scored his first goal of the preseason as well.

•   Phillip Kurashev would add a third goal in the first period and it appeared the Blackhawks may cruise to a win over their rival Red Wings.

•   Helping the case for a cruising win, in the second period, Brandon Hagel won a race to the puck and found a wide-open MacKenzie Entwistle for the 4-1 goal in the second period.

•   Hagel finished the night with three assists, all primary, and Entwistle would tack-on a second goal in the third period, which would stand as the eventual game-winner for the Blackhawks.

•   Coming into this training camp and preseason, Entwistle was going to be a forward on the bubble of making the NHL roster, but likely was going to be headed to the Rockford IceHogs to start the season. With three goals and an assist in three preseason games so far, his chances of making the Blackhawks out of camp continue to rise.

•   I’ve really like Entwistle’s game and work ethic since he came into the Blackhawks organization. He’s been a player who is not trying to do too much, or do things that are not part of his game in the hopes of making his mark on the club to get to the NHL level. He’s played his game, worked his strengths, and has an opportunity to breakout with the Blackhawks this season.

•   Entwistle is in the middle of a battle for just a small handle of roster spots in Chicago, with at least six or seven forwards fighting for position. The middle-six and bottom-six forwards group for the Blackhawks was a spotlight group coming into training camp and Entwistle is making his claim to one of those spots. For more on the Blackhawks roster bubble, here is the latest from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic:

•   With the regular season starting in eight days for the Blackhawks, and with 46 skaters still in camp, one can expect that a bunch of tough decisions are going to be made quickly regarding roster cuts. The Rockford IceHogs play a preseason game on Thursday after opening training camp yesterday. They have a baker’s dozen of players in camp at the moment, which is not enough to ice a full team. So yeah, cuts are coming today or tomorrow.

•   While there were a lot of positives from the game last night, including Hagel and Jonathan Toews with three assists each, there was plenty that made you worry just a little bit heading towards the regular season. Two glaring issues last night were the work of the penalty-kill, going 1-for-5, and the connection between the top-pair of Jake McCabe and Seth Jones. A number of times, Jones and McCabe were mishandling pucks, not connecting on simple passes, and out of position. A lot of that can come with a more time and more communication with a new defensive partner, but if those two are going to be two of the biggest minutes-eaters of the team, they have to get in-sync.

•   With the win, the Blackhawks are 2-1-1 in the preseason. Should we start predicting their playoff odds? Nah, we’ll leave that for the Bears:

•   Like they did in their last preseason game, the 5-1 win over the Blues in the dark ages game, the team held a “for-fun” shootout after regulation ended. The Blackhawks are now 2-0 in preseason shootouts, whatever that is worth.

•   And no one got hurt in unnecessary shootout action too. Win-win-win.

•   This time of year, we normally get lists and rankings of players on individual teams or across the league that are prospect-based or “top 25 under 25” so something along those lines. Well Sean Gentile of The Athletic went a different direction. With so many of the NHL’s top players still going strong into their 30’s, Gentile ranked the top 30 over 30, with three Blackhawks mentioned in the rankings heading into this season.

•   Those three over-30 players are going to have a lot to say when it comes to how far the Blackhawks go this season. Hope they are up to the task. Also, having 30 be the age when things start to turn for hockey players is a humbling reminder for someone who is a few months away from turning 32…

•   In the fallout from the comments made by Robin Lehner over the weekend, a number of other NHL players have come forward in support or some with their own stories of problems with medications while playing in the NHL. The latest being from former NHL enforcer Tom Sestito, who talked about his own issues with alleged team-issued pain killers and sleeping pills.

•   The hope is that if these issues are true and as wide-spread in the league as current and former players have said they are, that things will change internally with how injuries and physical issues are dealt with in the NHL. That players can be treated properly for their injuries, especially concussions, rather than force-fed pain-killers and told to tough-it-out. I know that is counter-culture to the sport of hockey, but that “culture” needs change in more ways than one.

•   Leaving you today with another gem from former Blackhawk Duncan Keith. After his comments about the NHL and NHLPA’s handling of the COVID vaccine and protocols, he’s on a roll talking about the Edmonton powerplay.

•   Yeah?

•   Look, I get it, what is he supposed to say about his new teammates? But this is the same guy who was quarterbacking a powerplay with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa IN THEIR PRIMES. C’mon dude.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all have a great Tuesday ahead of you!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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