Shutouts, Streaking, Believing, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Shutouts, Streaking, Believing, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Are we starting to see a turnaround for the Chicago Blackhawks? Winners of four-straight games, Chicago is slowly finding themselves crawling back up the standings after looking dead in the waters just a few days ago following a 6-4 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. They’re now 15-18-5, still not good, but are just seven points back of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference. They’re believing in themselves. Should we?

•   I don’t know what it was, but after seeing this in the pregame warmup, I had a good feeling about last night.

•   When a team is having fun, good things usually tend to follow them.

•   And sometimes those good things come all at once in a short amount of time, like on the Blackhawks’ opening goal of the game last night against the Ducks…

•   I’ve watched this no less than 50 times since last night. I still can’t believe everything that happened in a 30-second span. Also, Pat Foley on the call was perfect.

•   It seemed like the Blackhawks fed off of the chaos of last night’s game, since their 2-0 goal from Patrick Kane was again the exclamation point on a wild sequence.

•   Alex DeBrincat feeding Kane for his ninth goal of the season made it back-to-back games with a goal and a seven-game point-streak for the nine-time NHL All-Star. But he will not be going to a tenth All-Star game this year. Instead, it’ll be DeBrincat heading to his first All-Star game in February.

•   Kane speaking about DeBrincat getting the nod over him this season after the game…

•   With his goal last night, Kane has 16 points over his last 17 games and leads the team with 34 points in 34 games this season. With a pair of assists, DeBrincat has 17 points in his last 17 games and is second on the team with 32 points in 38 games this season.

•   Almost getting his first point of his NHL career last night was rookie Lukas Reichel. Unfortunately he was robbed by another Lukas, Lukas Dostal, and kept off the scoresheet.

https://twitter.com/Sportsnet/status/1482547390020268032?s=20

•   Reichel’s second NHL was much like his first, nothing to WRITE home about.

•   Yes, it is I, the dumbest person in the room. Might as well just call myself Ricky from now on.

•   Marc-André Fleury was lights out for the Blackhawks last night, stopping all 37 shots he faced and earning his third shutout of the season. He’s made six-straight starts for the Blackhawks now and is 4-1-1 with a .922 save-percentage over those starts.

https://twitter.com/NHLBlackhawks/status/1482580102768734208?s=20

•   Keep rolling the hot-hand, if you ask me.

•   After we’ve become so used to the Blackhawks being a low-event team, last night we saw a high-event game at both ends of the ice.

•.  It was a nice change of pace, to be honest.

•   As they say, Saturday night is alright for a fight.

•   Not to mention, the turnout last night helped the game feel like it meant a little more.

•   Great to hear the United Center getting excited once again for Blackhawks games. Maybe, just maybe, there might be more games beyond April 29 to get excited about.

•   So apparently, “players only” meetings can work…

•   After falling to the Arizona Coyotes, the last-place team in the NHL at the time on January 6, it felt like a rock-bottom moment. Now, after winning four games in-a-row since then, you almost forget that loss. But in reality, you don’t. You have to use that loss as a point to say, “that’s a performance we can’t fall back to.”

•   And the performance last night against the Ducks, that’s what they are going to want to replicate on a nightly basis.

•   Easier said than done, but it’s now a tangible goal since they have the performance on tape and in their minds. They can play that way.

•   Yes, the games that the Blackhawks have won during their four-game streak are against teams that are not world-beaters, but you play the games on your schedule and all you are required to do is beat the team put in front of you on a given night.

•   They’ll have an ample opportunity to make it five wins in-a-row on Monday when they travel to Seattle to take on the Kraken, a team that has not won a game since December 14. Seattle is 0-8-1 in their last nine games since then and are 2-10-3 since December 1. If you think Chicago is good enough to be susceptible to a “trap game,” Monday is a trap game and they better be ready to go.

•   In Rockford last night, the IceHogs comeback efforts fell short against the Cleveland Monsters, but defenseman Alec Regula had a “monster” game with four assists! You can find the full highlights here:

•   Rockford is in the middle of a playoff chase themselves, sitting in fourth in the Central Division based on point-percentage (.536) and holding a 14-12-2 record.

•   In other prospect news, also having a monster game last night was 2021 second-round pick Colton Dach. He tallied a goal and three assists in a 9-1(!) win for the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL.

https://twitter.com/TheWHL/status/1482552119764795395?s=20

•   Dach now has 14 goals and 31 points in 29 games this season, second on the Rockets in both of those categories.

•   Also with a multi-point game in the WHL last night, Jalen Luypen tallied two assists for the Edmonton Oil Kings to reach 100 career WHL points!

https://twitter.com/EdmOilKings/status/1482508197512372226?s=20

•   Luypen has 15 goals and 40 points this season for the Oil Kings in 36 games played. He’s third on the team in goals and second in points. He and Dach are the only two non-professional prospects in the Blackhawks system to be playing at a point-per-game pace or better this season.

•   Shifting gears, another instance of USA Hockey being the absolute worst. Darcie Moran of the Detroit Free Press reports that former NHLer Reid Boucher has plead guilty to sexually assaulting his former “billet sister” when she was 12 in 2011. USA Hockey was reportedly told of the incident and removed Boucher from the billet home, but allowed him to continue playing without repercussions.

•   For those who might not know, a “billet” family is a family that provides housing in their own homes, usually, to younger hockey players when that player is playing away from their hometown. Boucher played for the U.S. Development Program Team at the time, stationed in Plymouth, Michigan.

•   The incident happened during Boucher’s draft year in 2011, where he was selected 99th overall by the New Jersey Devils. At the time, current New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello was in the same position with the Devils and was the one who selected Boucher. According to The Athletic’s Katie Strang, Lamoriello had no knowledge of Boucher’s incident and says he would not have selected him, had he known at the time.

•   USA Hockey denies knowing of the incident in 2011, but still removed Boucher from the family.

•   It just doesn’t seem to stop. Instance after instance of hockey players being taken advantage of, or the reverse and using their own stature to take advantage of others. All while those who are supposed to hold the offending parties responsible, turns blind-eye or actively work to try to hide the problem, rather than face it head-on. It’s disheartening and it never seems to change.

•   Wanting to end today on a better note, the Hurricanes were all gas and no brakes in more ways than one after last night’s 4-1 win over the Canucks.

https://twitter.com/NHL/status/1482574719207587840?s=20

•   “Don’t get hurt!”

•   Finally, sharing is caring…

•   By the way, the Oilers are broken. 3-10-2 since December 1. Yikes.

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



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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