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4:50 Minutes, Delia’s COVID Comeback, Beijing, The Border, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The best thing for the Blackhawks after last night’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers is that they won’t have to dwell on it too long. A quick turnaround today for as they hop a flight West to Vancouver to take on the Canucks at 7:00 p.m. CT tonight. It should provide a confidence boost to a Blackhawks squad that looked like the old-Blackhawks from three weeks ago against a superior Edmonton club.

•   We knew Connor McDavid was going to score, we just didn’t know how he was going to score. McDavid opened the game with a rebound goal mid-way through the first period. After seeing him carve-up the Rangers and Jets in dramatic fashion, a rebound goal at the doorstep was a bit anti-climatic for McDavid’s standards.

•   But a goal is a goal in the NHL and McDavid extended his points streak to begin the season to 17 games with the 1-0 tally.

•   The Oilers are led by McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, we knew they were going to be a handful to deal with on their own. But with McDavid’s opening goal, the floodgates for other Oilers on the team to take advantage. In a span of eight and a half minutes, McDavid, Tyson Barrie, Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod all scored to put Edmonton up 4-0 in the first period. It was over from there.

•   But that didn’t mean that Draisaitl wasn’t still going to get his for the night.

•   His 18th goal this season leads the NHL and is on pace for…86 goals.

•   While that seems far-fetched for Draisaitl to attain, it would be the first time since Brett Hull scored 86 goals in 1990-91 for a player to reach the 80-goal plateau in the NHL.

•   What also stood out last night was the beginning of the second period. For the first eight uninterrupted minutes of the period, it seemed the Blackhawks were playing in their own zone exclusively. It was pretty close to it as both Connor Murphy and Caleb Jones played a 4:50-minute shift and faced all four Oilers’ line combinations in the process.

•   I had never seen anything like that.

•   Incredibly, both Murphy and Jones returned to the ice without missing a shift. If it were me, I would have skated off the ice and collapsed on the bench, demanding someone carry me to the bus.

•   Is that how hearts work?

•   What led to the Blackhawks being down four goals in the first period and being hemmed in their own zone for nearly the first half of the second period were turnovers. Turnovers everywhere. It was the downfall of the night for Chicago against a team too talented to be handed scoring opportunities.

•   But even with shooting themselves in the foot, the Blackhawks were not too far off from keeping the game competitive. At least at 5v5 they did.

•   Allowing not one, but two short-handed goals and giving the top powerplay unit in the NHL four opportunities, including a five-on-three, is more than enough to dig a hole you cannot crawl out of.

•   The bright spot for the Blackhawks last night was Alex DeBrincat. He scored his team-leading 10th and 11th goals of the season to attempt to keep the game respectable.

•   DeBrincat is now ninth in the NHL in goals and brings a five-game point streak with him to Vancouver. DeBrincat has seven points over his five-game streak and seven goals in his last seven games.

•   The question of whether or not he is a star in the NHL is over. The answer is yes.

•   Speaking of stars, former Blackhawks star defenseman and future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith faced his former club for the first time since being traded this offseason. With the injury to Darnell Nurse, Keith, who had been playing a second-pairing role for the Oilers this season, was thrust back into a familiar position as the top defenseman on his club.

•   Pretty poetic.

•   Today would have been former Blackhawks forward Jimmy Hayes’ 32nd birthday.

•   If you feel so inclined, consider donating to The 11 Fund in honor of Hayes.

•   In Blackhawks prospect news last night, Colton Dach scored his seventh goal of the season for the Kelowna Rockets. He has 13 points in 13 WHL games this season.

•   Also happening in the Blackhawks farm system last night was the Rockford IceHogs topping the Chicago Wolves for the second night in-a-row. After allowing the Wolves’ two goals on the first five shots of the game, Collin Delia and the IceHogs settled into the game and forced overtime. In the shootout, Dylan McLaughlin scored the only chance for Rockford and Delia stopped all four Wolves skaters. The win was Delia’s first of the season after making his only other appearance this year a month ago on October 23.

•   Delia was M.I.A. from the IceHogs essentially since his only start of the season, allowing five goals in a loss to the Iowa Wild. It wasn’t until earlier this week that we learned he had been in COVID protocol and away from the club. As you can tell in the video following the shootout win, this one meant something to Delia and the club, who are now 5-6-1 this season.

•   Blackhawks development coach Kendall Coyne-Schofield spoke with Tracey Myers about her role with the club and balancing that work along with being a star in the Women’s Hockey realm and her expectations heading into the 2022 Winter Olympics. Highly recommend checking out the full interview.

•   In speaking of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the participation of the NHL in the Games feels a bit shaky. After how the league has had to deal with COVID this season, and having to postpone games already with the Ottawa Senators, there is concern around the league that NHL players might not head to the Games after all.

•   It’s still too early to make any assumptions, but the league has just about six weeks to finalize their decision. A lot can happen in six weeks.

•   Also of note regarding COVID and athletes, the U.S.-Canada border will be closed to unvaccinated athletes coming into Canada starting on January 15. Obviously this impacts the NHL.

•   Luckily for the league, most players are vaccinated with only a handful, maybe, still left without a COVID vaccination.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Sunday afternoon of football. 🐻 ⬇️

•   We will see you after the Bears game For Blackhawks-Canucks tonight at 7:00 p.m. CT!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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