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Stealing a Point, Honoring Jimmy Hayes, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Ok, take three?

The Blackhawks are still searching for their first win of the season after dropping a 4-3 decision in overtime last night to the New Jersey Devils. But hey, at least they stole a point in the process. Baby steps to start the season.

This was a game, on paper, that the Blackhawks could have used to shake off the result from Wednesday night in the season-opening loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Instead, it was another night where the Blackhawks looked too inconsistent and had to put up too much of a fight late in the game. Starting a game on time is still 0-for-2 for the Blackhawks this season.

•   Prior to the game, both teams honored Jimmy Hayes by wearing special sweaters during warmups. Hayes played for both the Devils and Blackhawks in his career.

•   Also on the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast, Andrew Shaw and Colby Cohen shared their memories of their friend and teammate.

•   After an emotional start to the game, the Blackhawks and Devils dropped the puck for opening night in New Jersey.

•   #17Seconds…

•   Remember when Dougie Hamilton could have been a free agent target of the Blackhawks?

•   Not the ideal start that Chicago wanted as the Devils would hold the 1-0 lead through the first period.

•   But, early in the second period, Alex DeBrincat pulled Chicago even with his first goal of the season on the powerplay and also the first points of the season for Tyler Johnson and Patrick Kane.

•   The Devils would add two goals from there, one late in the second period and another early in the third period to take a 3-1 lead. With Kevin Lankinen pulled and on the powerplay, the Blackhawks were able to cut the lead down to 3-2 thanks to Kirby Dach’s powerplay tally.

•   His first goal of the season, also coming with assists from Tyler Johnson and Patrick Kane. The late barrage giving the Blackhawks some hope.

•   Enough hope that with under 30-seconds to play in regulation, Dominik Kubalík was able to find the equalizing goal!

•   Seth Jones with a crucial play to keep possession of the puck in the offensive zone, and Brandon Hagel with eyes in the back of his head to find Kubalík open at the net-front. A play that helped the Blackhawks steal at least one point from the night. It would be their only point stolen from the game though.

•   To three-on-three overtime we go and that is where we would all have a front-row seat to the Jack Hughes show…

•   Credit Hughes for the skillful move, but also keep in mind you have Patrick Kane and Erik Gustafsson defending him. Not exactly a sound defensive effort on the play. Also, Kevin, where are you going? Ugh. It could have been a great comeback story, but the Blackhawks fall short of the storyline.

•   Speaking of storylines from the game, how about the turnaround from Seth Jones. One of the worst performers on opening night, to best the of the night last night.

•   Granted, the difference is how many Blackhawks players are pointing to the left of the graph, which is the bad side.

•   The Blackhawks will need Jones to be the player he was last night more often than the player he was on Wednesday night. And he’ll need to be that player, well, every night.

•   While a point is good, especially when it was undeserved, the Blackhawks need to count their blessings that they even earned that last night.

•   So who are the Blackhawks through two games? Underperforming or overrated? Who we thought they were or slow-starters? It’s hard to put a definitive label on this roster just yet, with more than a handful of players still finding their groove within the group, but the Blackhawks are running short on time to “figure things out” now that the games count.

•   As Mark Lazerus of The Athletic points out here, the Blackhawks had time to figure out the problems from training camp and the preseason, but we are still seeing many of the same mistakes leaking into the regular season. If things on the ice don’t change soon, one of the paths to make a change could come off the ice, more specifically from behind the bench.

•   A major issue of the Blackhawks last season and in recent year before then was their play at even-strength. Last year, much of their success and the reason they were in the playoff hunt was because of their powerplay success. We are seeing that same formula with Chicago through two games: poor five-on-five play, but a successful powerplay.

•   Good teams can find success in both facets of the game. If the Blackhawks are going to live up to the preseason expectations many have set for them, they are going to have to be able to maintain offensive possession and sustain pressure at five-on-five play. If not, it’s going to be more of the same of the past few years.

•   Kevin Lankinen got the start last night for the Blackhawks, making 25 saves on 29 shots faced, with all four goals coming at even-strength. It setup Marc-André Fleury to get the start tonight in Pittsburgh as the Blackhawks take on one of Fleury’s former clubs, the team that drafted him back in 2003, the Penguins. Fleury talked with The Athletic’s Rob Rossi ahead of his latest return to Pittsburgh and what it still means to him to be embraced by Penguins fans today.

•   The game tonight should again, on paper, give the Blackhawks an opportunity to get their first win of the season with the Penguins not having Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in the lineup.

•   Also in action last night, the Rockford IceHogs kicked-off the 2021-22 season with a forgettable one, falling 6-1 to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

•   Yeeesh.

•   Much like the Blackhawks, the IceHogs have a quick turnaround and will play again tonight, taking on their rival Chicago Wolves.

•   Going to be another busy night for the organization.

•   In prospect news last night, Colton Dach continued his hot start to the WHL season with a pair of goals for the Kelowna Rockets. Unfortunately, the Rockets’ broadcast was having issues, so video highlights of Dach’s night were not available. They had to get creative:

•   So life-like!

•   In other Chicago sports news, the Chicago Sky took care of business in Game Three of the WNBA Finals, dispatching of the Mercury with a 36-point win to take a 2-1 series lead. One win away from the Sky’s first ever WNBA Championship!

•   Game Four is tomorrow at 2:00 p.m CT at Wintrust Arena!

•   Here’s an exhibit to why the hard-cap in the NHL is a problem: the Toronto Maple Leafs cannot call up one of their minor-league goalies because they have too many injuries at other positions that need attention to allow for a proper backup goalie to be recalled because they are out of cap room. So they will sign a random college goalie to a tryout to play backup to Jack Campbell tonight.

•   What could go wrong?

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all have a good Saturday ahead of you and we will see you for Blackhawks and Penguins tonight at 6:00 p.m. CT!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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