Offensive Struggles Continue, Reichel Injured, Penguins Sold, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Offensive Struggles Continue, Reichel Injured, Penguins Sold, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night was another installment in a current stretch of games for the Blackhawks where their offense was non-existent. Being shutout by the San Jose Sharks 2-0 at home, Chicago now has three loses over their last nine games and have been out-scored in those three losses 12-4. In their last six wins, the Blackhawks have out-scored opponents 14-8 with two overtime wins and a shootout win in the process. Chicago is scoring just 2.00 goals per game since November 7 when interim head coach Derek King took over, which is 30th in the NHL over that time.

•   Last night was also Hockey Fights Cancer night for the Blackhawks and in honor of the night, former Hawk and WGN broadcaster Troy Murray, who is currently battling cancer, was on hand to drop the ceremonial puck ahead of the game along with Devin Pittges.

•   Murray has been away from his broadcast duties this season after announcing his cancer diagnosis prior to the year beginning. He has sporadically joined the radio and TV broadcasts to check in, but seeing him last night and with the Blackhawks running a video in support of Murray’s fight, safe to say there were plenty of emotions around the UC.

•   It was too bad that the team couldn’t pull out a win for Murray last night, as it has been evident the impact he has being around the organization and the players.

•   Last night was also Blackhawks goaltender Marc-André Fleury’s 37th birthday. While the team tried to help the birthday boy defensively, only allowing 22 shots on goal from the Sharks (which was the lowest allowed since November 7 against Nashville),  they couldn’t provide the goal support. Fleury made 20 saves on 21 shots (San Jose scored an empty-net goal) and has made 189 of 198 saves (.954) over his last six starts.

•   The lack of goal support wasn’t for a lack of trying, though.

•   Since King took over in Chicago, the club has started to find its identity after feeling like a directionless bunch under Jeremy Colliton to begin the season. Grinding-out wins and trying to win close, low-scoring games has been the new “strategy” for the Blackhawks. But even with trying to play better defensively and keeping games tight and low-scoring, they need to be able to find sustainable offense.

•   That simply won’t get it done.

•   On top of that, the Blackhawks’ struggles on the powerplay continued last night with an 0-for-2 performance. Since November 7, Chicago is 30th in the NHL on the man-advantage, having gone just 1-for-23 over that span. They have not converted a powerplay goal in their last six games.

•   The Blackhawks are off now until Thursday, so maybe they can benefit from a bit of rest and find their offensive game on the other side of the mini three-day break.

•   Bad news from the Rockford IceHogs last night as Lukas Reichel left the game in the third period after a scary hit.

•   Reichel has been one of the best players for the IceHogs this season, with seven goals and 12 points in 15 games. After hitting the board chest and face first, he left the game and looked in bad shape leaving the ice with the help of the team trainer and Ian Mitchell. Following the game, IceHogs interim head coach Anders Sorensen didn’t have an immediate update on his condition.

•   Hopefully any injury to Reichel is not serious.

•   Rockford won the game last night, 2-1 over the Milwaukee Admirals. The game-winning goal coming from Alex Nylander in the third period, his sixth goal of the season.

•   Rockford is now 6-7-2 on the year, sitting in fifth-place in the AHL Central Division.

•   In news around the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens made major front office changes yesterday, firing Marc Bergevin and bringing in Jeff Gorton to be the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations.

•   In speaking with the media today, Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said Gorton will be one of two people to oversee the Montreal front office, alluding to a two-headed look to the front office, rather than a traditional General Manager role.

•   The Pittsburgh Penguins will be under new ownership soon. Today, it was announced that Fenway Sports Group had purchased the five-time Stanley Cup Champions.

•   The sale is for a reported $900M, and will add the Penguins to the Fenway Sports Group portfolio that also includes the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool of the English Premier League.

•   Evander Kane has had his share of troubles this season off the ice. He was suspended by the league for violating COVID protocols and is eligible to return to the San Jose Sharks tomorrow. He was placed on waivers by the Sharks yesterday and we should find out this afternoon what his next move may be, whether he clears the waiver period or not.

•   Kane can decline to report to the AHL if he clears waivers, but would then face a fine.

•   Hey, remember Ryan Hartman? Well, it appears he’s figured things out at the NHL level with the Minnesota Wild after years of playing as just a role player in the league. Hartman has 12 goals and 16 points in 21 games for the Wild this season, his best point per game pace of his career so far.

•   The only players with more goals than Hartman this season in the NHL are Leon Draisaitl, Alex Ovechkin, Chris Kreider, Andrew Mangiapane, Kyle Connor, Connor McDavid, Matt Duchene, and Troy Terry. While we have raved about Alex DeBrincat being a superstar in the NHL and a leader for the Blackhawks this season, Hartman has the same amount of goals and one more point than DeBrincat so far this year.

•   Let that marinate for a minute.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Monday!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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