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Happy Birthday to the American G.O.A.T., Preparing For McDavid and Draisaitl, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

It’s been a trip over the last (nearly) two weeks for the Blackhawks, since making the change at head coach to replace Jeremy Colliton with Derek King. They are 4-0-0 in their last four games, all against teams in the bottom-third of the NHL. But, you know, beat the teams that are put in front of you, eh?

Getting back in the win column has been a treat for both the team and the fanbase. It’s more fun watching a team that can win games than it is watching a team that looks constantly out-matched. It’s also a treat for the stars of the Blackhawks to potentially not have another year of their careers wasted on a team going nowhere.

•   One of those stars who could have a year of his career saved now is Patrick Kane, who turns 33-years-old today!

•   For the past 14 spins around the sun, Kane has been the catalyst to the Blackhawks’ successes. What is crazy is that he continues to extend the prime of his career. In a league where players are usually most effective in their early-to-late 20’s, Kane’s best hockey has come over the past seasons in his late-20’s and into his 30’s. Kane had his career-best season in 2018-19, scoring 44 goals (the second-most of his career), 66 assists (most in his career), and tallying a career-high 110 points.

•   Since the 2018-19 season when Kane turned 30, only Connor McDavid (348) and Leon Draisaitl (332) have scored more points in the NHL than Kane’s 277. More on those two later.

•   Kane’s past few seasons have mostly come with teammate Alex DeBrincat playing on his opposite wing. Much like the chemistry that Kane found with Artemiy Panarin during his time in Chicago, Kane and DeBrincat have found that rhythm in their game that only a pair of NHL superstars can find. This season, much like last season, is serving as a showcase for DeBrincat to the league that he has arrived as a superstar in the NHL.

•   But we already knew that back here in Chicago.

•   The duo of Kane and DeBrincat will go head-to-head against arguably the biggest and best duo in the NHL today as they take on Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Edmonton Oilers tomorrow night in Edmonton. McDavid and Draisaitl are the top-two scorers in the league this season with Draisaitl’s 33 points leading McDavid’s 30, through 16 games.

•   It’s been a hot-button issue surrounding McDavid most of his career, but has recently gained steam again after comments made by John Tortorella on ESPN a few days ago. McDavid is the best player in the world, there’s no doubting that, but he is not treated as such on the ice by the officials. Fairly often, penalties drawn by McDavid go uncalled and many are pretty blatant, especially in the postseason. Yesterday, McDavid gave his opinion on the non-call culture surrounding him.

•   When you have a player of his skill level, you want to showcase it from a league perspective. If you cannot defend him without hooking, holding, tripping, etc., you have to figure something else out as a professional hockey player. Officials and the league should be encouraged to allow McDavid’s talent to shine, rather than allowing defenders leeway on the rules to slow him down. Because honestly, when he does things like this, the league benefits…

•   The definition of unstoppable in the dictionary is “impossible to stop or prevent.” There is a picture of McDavid for reference, as well.

•   Chicago is 4-0-0 in their last four games, but I’m not confident that they get to 5-0-0 with McDavid and Draisaitl ahead of them tomorrow night.

•   But, if they do happen to get out to a lead against the Oilers, they will have to do a much better job at holding it than they have previously this season. As Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times points out here, when leading this season, the Blackhawks have been shelled by their opponents and have relied on goaltending to bail them out. Wednesday night’s win over the Seattle Kraken being the most recent prime example of that trend.

•   Again, I’m not expecting the Blackhawks to get much of a chance to hold a lead against the Oilers, a team averaging 3.81 goals per game, but it would be a nice opportunity to work on not letting their foot off the gas if they did so.

•   In former Blackhawks news, 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Troy Brouwer officially retired from hockey yesterday after 14 NHL seasons. He last played in the league in the 2019-20 season.

•   Brouwer was drafted by the Blackhawks in the seventh-round of the 2004 NHL Draft and played 238 of his 851 career regular season games with Chicago from 2006-2011 and was part of the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning club.

•   If you haven’t seen this story out of the USHL, it’s kind of crazy. In summary, the Omaha Lancers have had there next three games postponed by the USHL in response to the firing of head coach Chadd Cassidy, cost-cutting measures but the club, and a boycott from the players themselves.

•   The USHL released a statement on Thursday surrounding the controversy in Omaha, which include:

– Firing Cassidy but still making him coach a handful of games before the move was made official
– The team saying Cassidy was leaving the team, rather than he was let go from his position
– Software the coaches use to break down game film having its subscription cancelled in a cost-saving measure by the team
– Players having to buy their own sticks and tape, which is to be provided by the team in accordance with USHL standards
– The entire coaching and training staff resigning, as well as all players boycotting the weekend, in response to Cassidy’s firing

•   YIKES.

•   In other NHL news from last night, Jakob Markstrom recorded his fifth(!) shutout of the season in his 13th game played.

•   Markstrom is recording a shutout in 38.4% of his starts this season. At that pace, if he started 60 games, he would record 23 shutouts. Not to say that will happen, but, holy crap.

•   Good news for the Ottawa Senators as it appears their COVID nightmare might be coming to a close. After having their season put on pause due to a COVID outbreak that placed nearly a dozen players and staff in protocols, it looks like the club will be able to return to the ice this weekend.

•   That’s great news. Hopefully everyone can continue to see their health improve and get back to normal operations.

•   Who’s up for a little malice?



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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