Enhanced COVID Protocols, Losing to the Predmirals, Goalie Goal, Subban's Save of the Year, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Enhanced COVID Protocols, Losing to the Predmirals, Goalie Goal, Subban’s Save of the Year, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

I’m going to advise you to take time today to enjoy your Saturday. Whatever that means to you, do it. And if it means gathering with people or going into public spaces, please be smart and wear a mask. For your sake, the sake of the people around you, and for your friends and family members who you may be gathering with next week for the holidays.

•   The NHL is still on the warpath to power through the current COVID outbreak spreading through the league. Eventually, we are going to get to a point where too many players, coaches, staff members, etc. are going to be in COVID protocols and even on a case-by-case basis, too many games are going to be postponed and too many teams are going to be individually shutdown.

•   More from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan:

•   We talked about the league implementing enhanced COVID protocols, today they made it official.

•   So far this morning, here’s where we are with new additions to the NHL’s COVID protocols, starting Detroit:

•   Late last night, additions from the Maple Leafs:

•   The Blackhawks, who just played one of the hardest hit teams last night, have been relatively lucky when it comes to COVID cases. Here’s to hoping that can continue to hold true.

•   The Olympics are out the door, if you ask me, for the NHL. At this point, it makes me start to wonder what the All-Star weekend will be like.

•   And it’s not just the NHL getting hit with this. It’s pro leagues around North America and the world, and in the NHL’s backyard with multiple teams in the AHL having games postponed already. Today, the Manitoba Moose, AHL affiliate to the Winnipeg Jets, had their games postponed through the 22nd.

•   I’m so sick of talking about this. I really am. I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about it. But this is the reality the league is facing right now.

•   Speaking of AHL hockey, the Rockford IceHogs beat the Texas Stars last night and the insurance goal came from Collin Delia, making him the first goalie in IceHogs team history to score a goal!

•   Not only is Delia stopping goals, he’s creating chances too…

•   You’ll take it any way you can get it, right?

•   With the win last night, the IceHogs are 11-9-2 on the season and have won six of their last ten games. Delia made 24/25 saves to earn his fourth win of the season.

•   Former Blackhawks goaltender Malcolm Subban, now with the Buffalo Sabres, may have made the save of the year last night against then Penguins…

•   I mean…how?

•   Also happening in that Sabres-Penguins game last night was the NHL debut of Casey Fitzgerald for Buffalo. What better way to say hello to the NHL than to get into your first NHL fight with Mom and Dad in the stands?

•   Not a bad scrap for Fitzgerald.

•   In the Blackhawks game last night, Kirby Dach got on the board for his fifth goal of the season and his second in five games after going 17-games without a goal earlier this season.

•   Dach is scoring at a 14-goal pace for the season, which wouldn’t bother me if he was dishing out assist at 40-per season pace. But he’s not doing that either. He’s also not winning faceoffs, just 33.1% of them this season. He’s still just 20-years-old, and likely still regaining his confidence after a challenging season last year. His goal last night hopefully has a “floodgates” effect to it.

•   Much like Jonathan Toews’ first goal of the season had a floodgates effect for him. Tying to game late in the third period last night, Toews netted his third goal of the year and third in his last four games. The 33-year-old Captain is enjoying a four-game point-streak now. Maybe he’s fixed?

•   With Dach and Toews scoring, the Blackhawks forced overtime against an underwhelming Predators team last night that was playing with a lineup that was nearly half-full with AHL Admirals players. Nashville was playing on the second night of back-to-back games as well. Getting to overtime was fine in the moment for Chicago, but this was a game that the Blackhawks should have won.

•   They didn’t. Clearly. They not only didn’t win, they stole the pity point in a game where they were out-played by Nashville in nearly every aspect of the game. That can’t happen for a team that is fresh and also playing a much more NHL-looking lineup than their opponents.

•   Scary moment for the Blackhawks last night and one that led to the Predators having the rush chance they did in overtime, Patrick Kane took a puck to the face and had to leave the ice abruptly in overtime. But according to head coach Derek King, he’ll be fine.

•   Chicago can’t afford to lose a player like Kane at this point in the season, as they are trying to crawl out of the 1-9-2 hole from the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, over their past 14 games, the Blackhawks have alternated wins and losses and have a 7-6-1 record over that stretch.

•   They’ll hopefully have a chance to get back in the win column tonight, in Dallas against the Stars.

•   A Happy 24th Birthday to Alex DeBrincat!

•   He’s been arguably the team MVP this season for Chicago. Maybe the next Captain?

•   That would obviously mean that Jonathan Toews was not a Blackhawk any longer. He and Patrick Kane are due new contracts at the end of next season, so what would those look like?

•   It’s hard to imagine either of those two not playing their entire careers in Chicago, but it could very well happen.

•   Trevor Zegras is quickly becoming one of the more popular young players in the NHL and the game is better for it. Need younger guys not afraid to show a little flair on and off the ice.

•   Speaking of the next generation of NHL players, Blackhawks goalie prospect Drew Commesso is about to take center stage for Team USA at the World Junior Championships later this month (assuming they still happen) and Chicago fans have a lot to look forward to both on and off the ice with a player like Commesso.

•   Now to figure out what the plan is for him and the Blackhawks future in net…

•   Speaking of Team USA, Kendall Coyne-Schofield scored one of two game-tying goals for the U.S. against Canada last night in their latest matchup in the rivalry series…

•   But in the overtime period, it was Canadian Captain Marie-Philip Poulin with the game-winner..

•   Her second overtime winner in as many games. Maybe one of the most clutch hockey players on the planet.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you enjoy your Saturday.

•   We will see you tonight (I assume) for Blackhawks-Stars at 7:00 p.m. CT!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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