Good News for Khaira, Ending Goal Droughts, Zegras Magic, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Good News for Khaira, Ending Goal Droughts, Zegras Magic, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night was not a fun game. It was good for the first twenty minutes, but the next forty were some of the worst of the season for the Blackhawks. What made it worse was if you spent any time on hockey Twitter last night, which I’m sure a lot of you did.

•   In a 2-2 game, the turning point in the night came when Jacob Trouba ran over Jujhar Khaira mid-way through the second period. Khaira had his head down looking for the puck between his skates when Trouba leveled Khaira with a shoulder/elbow shot to the head, knocking Khaira out before he hit the ice. In the post below you can see the hit, if you haven’t already, but a warning that it’s rough.

•   And yeah, it was a head shot.

•   “KEep Ur heAd uP BrO” Miss me with this bullsh-. The NHL has evolved, somewhat, from the days where knocking someone out cold with an open ice hit to the head was a lesson learned for the player laying unconscious on the ice. Scott Stevens’ hit on Paul Karyia that KO’d him, only for him to return to the game and score a goal is an iconic moment in Stanley Cup Final history. It is also a moment that contributes to the fact that Karyia’s career was cut short and he cannot remember large portions of his life. The onus needs to be on the player making the check when they are going after someone in a vulnerable position. If you watch the video, Khaira’s head is down, but he raises it at the last second before Trouba hits him, changing his level. Trouba comes in at the same level as Khaira with his head down and follows Khaira’s level change with him, ultimately driving his shoulder/elbow into Khaira’s jaw. If Trouba keeps his level low, his shoulder goes into Khaira’s chest and we’re having a much different discussion today. If Trouba comes away without a significant fine and/or suspension, I’ll be shocked. Then again, this is the NHL Department of Player Safety we’re talking about.

•   Luckily for Khaira, he looks to be alright and has been released from the hospital this morning.

•   He’ll likely be in concussion protocol for a while, with no real timetable for his return.

•   With Khaira being added to the list of injured Blackhawks, the team made a number of roster moves as well today. Notably, MacKenzie Entwistle is back to full heath.

•   Following the hit on Khaira and fallout from the lopsided loss to the Rangers last night, the Blackhawks are not practicing today before heading to Montreal to face the Canadiens. I don’t blame them.

•   It’s crazy to me that the game was not paused in some fashion following Khaira being stretchered off the ice. Having to see your teammate knocked out cold, strapped to a stretcher, carted away and then having to go back to playing like nothing happened is one of the most difficult mental tasks you could ask of an athlete. After the game, you could sense how it affected Jonathan Toews and the rest of the team.

•   Hopefully Khaira can have a full recovery and the Blackhawks can bounce-back against the Canadiens tomorrow night.

•   The game, itself, started much like the game on Saturday night in New York between these teams, with best friends Patrick Kane and Artemiy Panarin having some pregame fun.

•   It took just one minute for the Rangers to take the lead and on that opening goal, Panarin recorded his 500th career NHL point.

•   His first point of his career came with the Blackhawks against the Rangers, his 500th comes with the Rangers against the Blackhawks. Life is funny like that sometimes.

•   Panarin would also record career points number 501, 502, and 503 on the night, part of another multi-point game against his former club.

•   Kinda getting old at this point. Luckily the Blackhawks won’t have to see Panarin and the Rangers again this season unless they meet in the Stanley Cup Final.

•   Prior to yesterday’s game, I wrote about the Blackhawks’ goal droughts and how the top players not producing is hurting the team.

•   Maybe the guys read it? Erik Gustafsson scored his first goal of the season to tie the game in the first period last night.

https://twitter.com/NHLBlackhawks/status/1468398663894450179?s=20

•   Following that, Kirby Dach ended a 17-game goal-drought with the 2-1 goal to give the Blackhawks the lead at that point in the game.

•   You could see on the ice what it meant to Gustafsson and Dach to get those goals. Plus, following giving up a goal in the first minute of the game, the Blackhawks found these two in the first period to have a response that had been missing in the beginning of the year.

•   Unfortunately, those two goals would be all they could muster-up. Their low-scoring offensive run continues this season and last night, their ability to keep opponents close fell apart.

•   The loss was hung on Marc-André Fleury, making his 900th career start in the NHL. He’ll have to wait for another opportunity to reach career win number 500 though, still sitting at 499 after last night.

•   Losing last night was tough, but it’s not the full story from the Blackhawks since Derek King took over. They are 8-5-0 since November 6 when King was promoted to interim head coach, and while some of the games have gotten away from them against top-tier opponents, the Blackhawks are making things interesting in most contests. Even if they are low-event games. For King, maybe his time behind the bench lasts longer than this season?

•   It beats having to listen to “Fire Colliton” chants.

•   Speaking of Matt Nagy, here we are again, being told that this is his last chance. What else is new?

•   I am not looking forward to Sunday night’s game, but at the same time, maybe a national TV embarrassment is what finally gets Nagy, and maybe Ryan Pace, out of Chicago.

•   Speaking of coach and GM changes, in Dan Rosen’s latest NHL dot com mailbag, he talks about what the Blackhawks might do as far as finding a permanent solution to their front office openings.

•   Hey, where have I heard this idea before?

•   I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, but holy shit was this play by Trevor Zegras and Sonny Milano INSANE last night.

•   You know a goal is incredible when the guy who sets it up is shocked that it worked…

•   Zegras, taken ninth overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, has 35 points in 49 career NHL games already. The third overall pick, Kirby Dach, has 43 points in 107 career games. Just, you know, throwing it out there.

•   Cannot wait for Zegras to lead the next wave of U.S. talent in the NHL. He’s going to be special.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all have a good Wednesday!


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Author: Mario Tirabassi

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