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Always Thank Your Goalposts, Fleury On The Market? Comeback Cats, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The last time the Blackhawks had gone to Washington D.C. and won a game against the Capitals, I turned 16-year-old. I do not remember exactly what I did for my “Sweet 16” birthday, but I can probably guess it was pretty high school cringe-worthy shenanigans. Much of how this Blackhawks season started was cringe-worthy, but since making the change at head coach on November 7, Chicago is 7-3-0 and hold wins over the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals in their last three games. They still have a long way to go before thinking about the coaching change completely turning the ship around, but they have at least put the rudder back on and have a direction forward.

•   Before last night’s contest, ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported on “The Point” that the Blackhawks are undecided about what to do with Marc-André Fleury the rest of the season.

•   Fleury was brought to Chicago to put the team over the hump and into Stanley Cup Playoff contention. Everything around Fleury to begin the season did nothing to help him while backstopping the Blackhawks. But over his last seven appearances, he’s 5-2-0 with a .947 save-percentage and a 1.69 GAA. He’s currently the biggest reason that Chicago has had a chance to turn things around. Getting Fleury to come to Chicago this summer took convincing. He moved his family here under the impression he wouldn’t be traded this season. It will be interesting to see what happens if the team continues to move up the standings with Fleury playing well. If Chicago holds onto Fleury all season, it will have to be worth it in a potential playoff push, if they even get close to that.

•   But Fleury made the start last night for Chicago against the Capitals, a team he is very familiar with in his career from his days with the Penguins and the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. But making his first appearance against the Capitals in his career, making his first NHL appearance in his career, was Blackhawks rookie Josiah Slavin.

•   Slavin, the younger brother of Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, was a seventh-round pick by the Blackhawks in the 2018 NHL Draft, but quickly proved to be one of the more reliable, two-way forwards in the Blackhawks’ farm system.

•   While Slavin was settling in to his first game, the Chicago duo of Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat were continuing to drive the team’s offense this season. Not their first rodeo, as they say.

•   DeBrincat continues to have a breakout season as a superstar in the league, not just in Chicago. While he leads the team in goal-scoring this season, he also was helping get Dominik Kubalík out of his own scoring-slump.

•   Kubalík’s fourth of the season gave the Blackhawks the 2-1 lead in the second period, but the Capitals would score two unanswered goals to re-take the lead in the third period. That’s when Slavin had his chance to get his first NHL point with Seth Jones burying a wrister from the slot.

•   Jones’ goal would setup the game to head to overtime, where both teams had ample chances to win in the extra five minutes. Just imagine if there was another five minutes of three-on-three overtime? Even better, right?

•   Ultimately they would head to the shootout. After the Capitals did their own double-doink by hitting two goalposts in the shootout, Patrick Kane made them pay for their missed opportunities and Marc-André Fleury shut the door on Alex Ovechkin.

•   Washington hit six(!) goalposts in the game in total, leading them to be the second and third stars of the game.

•   Always tip your waiters and always thank your goalposts.

•   The shootout win snapped an eight-game losing streak for Chicago in the Nation’s Capitol.

•   Last night was another game where, against an out-matched opponent, the Blackhawks could have very well crumbled under the pressure of playing one of the top offenses in the NHL. But unlike at the beginning of the season, Chicago responded to the challenge and dug-out a win.

•   Chicago has the eighth-best points-percentage (.700) in the NHL since November 7. They are 7-3-0 but are scoring just 2.10 goals per game, 28th in the league. Of their seven wins, four have come in either overtime or the shootout. So wins are good, but they are going to need to find wins in regulation to really make believers out of most fans.

•   Maybe Derek King is on to something here.

•   He should consult with Ron Burgundy on his suit style for the rest of the season.

•   Chicago, after having a three-day mini-break, continue their East Coast road trip with three games in a four-day span tomorrow as they take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It will be nice to see Artemiy Panarin again. Hopefully he doesn’t light-up the Blackhawks too much.

•   This is a section I’d like to call “What are former Blackhawks up to?” Behold:

•   The win by former Blackhawks and IceHogs goaltender Anton Forsberg is why the sport of hockey is beautiful and stupid and I cannot believe people bet actual real dollars on the sport.

•   Speaking of former Blackhawks and the ridiculousness of hockey, Lucas Carlsson scored his first goal of his NHL Career last night as part of the Florida Panthers’ incredible comeback.

•   In back-to-back games, the Panthers trailed 4-1. In back-to-back games, the Panthers came back to win those games.

•   Is 4-1 the most dangerous lead in hockey now? Apparently when you face the Panthers it is.

•   News from the Blackhawks lawsuit front. The team continues to try to get the lawsuits against them dismissed. It’s typical “lawyering” but my god does it look awful for the organization.

•   Saying that Beach did not report the sexual assault against him by Brad Aldrich within the statute of limitations may be technically correct, but neither did John McDonough, or Stan Bowman, or Al MacIsaac, or Joel Quenneville, or James Gary.

•   Ending today with a laugh. Here’s a look at the 2022 Stadium Series sweaters for the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning.

•   Has there ever been a bigger gap in sweater design in the NHL than these two? Tampa Bay looks like they could cycle this sweater into their rotation and everyone would love it and Nashville…well they just look terrible.

•   Why is it “SMAsHVILLE?” What happened to that second “s?” I need answers.

•   Uh, yikes. That’s a big loss.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all have a good Friday ahead of you!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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