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Flaming Out, Olympic Threads, Thanksgiving, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The first road trip of the season for the Chicago Blackhawks could have been better, but it also could have been worse. After winning their first three home games under new interim head coach Derek King, the Blackhawks went 2-2-0 on the four-game West Coast swing and head into the American Thanksgiving holiday with a 6-11-2 record. It’s not great, but it’s much better than the trajectory they were on before the firing of Jeremy Colliton.

Last night’s 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames looks a lot worse on the scoreboard than it actually was. A pair of late empty-net goals inflated the score for the Flames in a game that was rough for the Blackhawks, in more ways than one, but showed their ability to respond to adversity. Something they had lacked under Colliton to begin the season.

•   Something we haven’t seen a ton of this year from the Blackhawks is actual fights. That was until this road trip. After Alex DeBrincat got into it with Seattle’s Yanni Gourde, Kirby Dach dropped the gloves last night with Blake Coleman.

•   The pros: Great to see someone stick up for their teammate and great to see Dach not afraid of a challenge. The cons: Kirby Dach should not be fighting, ever.

•   Great picture though.

•   Dach and DeBrincat, two focal points of the Blackhawks’ future, shouldn’t be the ones having to drop the gloves for their team. DeBrincat is smaller than I am and Dach has had concussion issues in his junior career and is coming off a season where he missed two-thirds of it because of a broken wrist and surgery.

•   You have players like Reese Johnson and Jujhar Khaira who are not opposed to fighting when called upon, so the Dach and DeBrincat fights should be an anomaly, not an expectation.

•   In the goal-scoring department last night, Brandon Hagel netted his second in as many games since returning from a shoulder injury. He has six goals on the season now, tied for second on the team with Patrick Kane.

•   After getting his first career NHL point with a secondary assist on Hagel’s goal, Reese Johnson tied the game at 2-2 with his first career NHL goal.

•   A special night for both Hagel and Johnson, who are cousins by the way, as they were playing back in familiar territory in Calgary last night.

•   Johnson and Hagel finding the back of the net will never not be a good thing, but they are not necessarily the players who should be driving offense against a team like Calgary, which has stifled offenses all season. This was a game where you knew you were going to need your big offensive guns to show up. While Dach had a solid performance, last night was a continuation of Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalík’s recent goal-drought. Toews hasn’t scored at all in 19 games this season and Kubalík has been without a goal for 13 games. If those two don’t start to find their scoring touch soon, Chicago will be forced to win games while scoring two, maybe three goals every night.

•   Chicago had a solid performance in net from Marc-André Fleury last night, keeping them in the game into the final minutes of the third period. But a bad bounce off Seth Jones’ skate led to the eventual game-winner for the Flames before adding two empty-net goals to make the 5-2 win look bigger than it was. It was a performance against the top team in the Western Conference that should give the Blackhawks a dreaded “moral victory.”

•   Of course, real victories would be better.

•   Chicago is off until after Thanksgiving, when they take on the St. Louis Blues on Black Friday. At 6-11-2, they are seventh out of eight in the Central Division, 14th out of 16 in the Western Conference, and 27th out of 32 in the NHL.

•   Off the ice, progress is being made in the legal proceedings between the organization and the legal team for Kyle Beach and “John Doe 2” as both sides have agreed the mediation on a settlement.

•   Those meetings are set to begin on December 15.

•   A video making the hockey rounds yesterday came from Architectural Digest and highlighted the home of Connor McDavid and his girlfriend Lauren, who designed the house.

•   This reminds me of the line in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when Ferris describes his friend Cameron’s childhood home as more like a museum. McDavid’s house looks modern and expensive, but to me it lacks a sense of comfort. To each their own.

•   Last night, the Oilers lost to the Dallas Stars. It marked the end of McDavid’s 17-game point streak to begin the season and the first time this season that McDavid nor Leon Draisaitl scored a goal for Edmonton.

•   It’s like a cheat code.

•   Both Draisaitl and McDavid will be heading to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in February, so long as the NHL continues with their decision to participate. McDavid will be playing for Team Canada and will be decked out in these new 2022 Winter Olympic setups…

•   They’re…not great.

•   While McDavid will be dressed like Darth Vader for Canada, Patrick Kane and Seth Jones will be wearing these new threads for Team USA…

•   Also not great. Like, not even close.

•   Speaking of Team USA and Team Canada, the Women’s teams continued their Rivalry Series yesterday. Team USA getting a 2-0 shutout win and Hilary Knight, who scored the overtime winner on Tuesday night, got the U.S. on the board first yesterday.

•   Hopefully we will see more results like that when the Olympics come around in a few months.

•   That will do it for today. Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving and the good people at the top of Bleacher Nation are giving us the day off. So if you need me over the next 48 hours, I’ll be taking notes from Zach Bogosian here…

•   Have a good Wednesday and have a Happy Thanksgiving!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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