It Was 4-1 (The Revenge of Kämpf), The Power of Positivity, Teddy Toss Night, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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It Was 4-1 (The Revenge of Kämpf), The Power of Positivity, Teddy Toss Night, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Look, last night’s 5-4 loss by the Blackhawks to the Toronto Maple Leafs can be looked at in a number of different ways. They were resilient to come back from a 4-1 deficit, but they got themselves in a 4-1 defeat in the first place. Defensively, they played well to limit chances against one of the most potent offensive teams in the NHL, but they shot themselves in the foot with penalties and handed scoring chances to the Maple Leafs. Chicago should have been able to steal a point last night, but they didn’t. For a team like Chicago that is trying to dig themselves out of a 1-9-2 hole to begin the season, every point from this moment forward matters and dropping points for moral victories doesn’t get you into the Stanley Cup Playoff hunt.

•   The Toronto Maple Leafs got out to a 4-1 lead over the Blackhawks. Being that it was 4-1 for Toronto, that meant the Blackhawks were all but guaranteed to make a comeback. The hockey gods work in that fashion. But once the game was tied, it was Chicago who would eventually fall victim to the sense of humor from the hockey gods in the form of an unlucky bounce and none other than David Kämpf scoring the eventual game-winning goal against his former club.

•   The good news for Kevin Lankinen at least is that he wasn’t the only target of the hockey gods’ sense of humor last night. They also went after Mikko Koskinen in Edmonton…

https://twitter.com/Sportsnet/status/1469903242247221256?s=20

•   And they went after Karel Vejmelka in Arizona, too…

•   It was a banner night for Sportsnet’s Maple Leafs super fan Steve Dangle and his simple instructions for NHL goaltenders…

•   Kevin Lankinen didn’t have himself the best night and the unfortunate bounce was the difference in him maybe salvaging the game late in regulation for Chicago and him being made to be the goat of the game for how things started in the opening 25-minutes of action.

•   Blackhawks head coach Derek King saw it a bit differently for his backup goaltender last night.

•   I mean, he’s right about the bounce, though.

•   The messaging from the Blackhawks’ head coach was a positive tone following what was a heart-breaking loss. After fighting back to tie the game, to have it end the way it did would usually crush a team. But for Chicago last night, the tone was that of a team that was proud of their resiliency against a formidable opponent like the Maple Leafs.

•   There’s a lot to say when players come out in support of not just their coach in a hollow, “He’s my coach so of course I support him” kind of way, but also in support of the way that coach presents the message to the team. King is a personable guy and his coaching style has resonated with the Blackhawks since he took over. Even in a loss that could demoralize a team, they found the positives to build from.

•   More than one player in that statement needed to have a positive game last night, and from King’s view, all three responded. Here’s the play he’s talking about from Philipp Kurashev.

•   A major moment in the game and for a player like Kursahev, who had his spot in the lineup challenged and faced a short stint in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs to build back his confidence. Also helping build confidence is Dominik Kubalík scoring goals, which he now has five on the season and two in the month of December after going all of November without one.

•   Needing to focus on the positives might sound like some sort of defeatist mentality, but for King coming into the locker room he was back on November 6, there wasn’t much positivity to begin with.

•   At 9-6-0 since King took over as interim coach, the Blackhawks are trending in a much better direction than they were to begin the season.

•   So, “new Dad strength” is real, eh?

•   Jake McCabe, who just welcomed his second child last week (hence his absence from the team) scored the game-tying goal in the third period of last night’s contest.

•   Congratulations to him and the McCabe family! (Wonder when I’ll get to use my “new Dad strength” to score an NHL goal…)

•   Speaking of scoring goals, it appears we are back in a world where Jonathan Toews is a goal-scoring threat.

•   Back-to-back games with a goal for the Captain after going the first 25 of the season without one. He’s now on pace for a whopping six this season. I’d bet a shiny nickel that he gets more than that.

•   Heading to Costco? Wanna pick me up some Blackhawks tickets while you’re there? Thanks!

•   I’m not even so sure that’s a good deal, even for Costco’s standards.

•   Remember to vote for the Blackhawks in the NHL All-Star vote!

•   It might be the only time the Blackhawks stars get to shine during the February break, since going to the Beijing Winter Olympics looks worse and worse for the NHL.

•   Chris Johnston of the Toronto Sun reporting that the IOC’s guidelines for COVID protocol actually look much worse than originally expected.

•   So, that sounds terrible. It feels like just a matter of time before the NHLPA announces that they will back players out of the Olympics.

•   Think about it this way for a player like Patrick Kane, Seth Jones, or Alex DeBrincat…

•   Imagine missing five weeks worth of paychecks, playing time, and just five weeks of being very, very far away from home, isolated. In China. Yeah, no thank you.

•   Meanwhile in Rockford last night, the IceHogs held the annual charity Teddy Toss night. Thanks to Carson Gicewicz, the Teddys went flying!

•   And later in the game, thanks to Ian Mitchell, the IceHogs won their seventh game in their last 11 contests, earning a point in eight of those last 11 games.

•   Mitchell has three goals and 11 points in 18 AHL games this season, with five points in his last four appearances for the IceHogs. He now is tied with Brett Connolly for second on the team in points and one behind Lukas Reichel for the team-lead. Both Reichel and Connolly are currently inactive.

•   An awesome night in Rockford to get those many Teddy Bears and other stuffed animals, and get the win! Don’t look now, but the IceHogs are in third-place in the AHL Central Division.

•   In other NHL news, the New York Islanders finally won at home.

•   Zach Parise scored the eventual game-winning goal for the Islanders against his first former team last night. Thus ends CM Punk’s punchline over the team.

•   Boy, they needed that.

•   Finally, in case you missed it last night, The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus got his daughter a life-sized Carlton the Bear Maple Leafs mascot stuffed animal in Toronto last night. Mark and his kids have a long history of getting stuffed NHL mascots over the years, and this might be one of the best times that he’s come through for them. I recommend following Mark and Carlton’s journey in this tweet thread from last night.

•   The “Flat Stanley” vibes are strong. I think this needs to be a regular thing now.

•   Shouldn’t be that hard to carry that thing around, right?

•   Getting ready for Bears-Packers tonight? Well if the game isn’t giving you much optimism, at least things are starting to look like there are major changes coming to the Bears front office…

•   First Lance Briggs, now this? I’m not as tuned into the Bears as Luis is, but I think where there is smoke, there is fire.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy you Sunday and Go Bears!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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