Not Starting On Time, Toews to IR, Men's Olympic Gold Medal Game Set, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Not Starting On Time, Toews to IR, Men’s Olympic Gold Medal Game Set, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night was the actual face-to-face meeting between former Blackhawk Adam Boqvist and former Blue Jacket Seth Jones, two key players from this past offseason for Chicago. Jones missed his first chance to play against his former team earlier this season when he was on COVID protocol, but last night he got a shot to show what Columbus lost. Well, it appears the Blue Jackets are doing just fine without him and Boqvist is also doing just fine away from Chicago.

•   While Jones recorded an assist in the game, the Blackhawks were out-matched in a 7-4 loss in front of a weather-affected small crowd at the United Center. Maybe it was the lack of the energy in the building that contributed to the slow start from Chicago? Maybe it’s a player problem, since this has been an issues with both Jeremy Colliton and Derek King? Maybe it’s a coaching problem? Maybe it’s decaf coffee? Whatever the reasoning, not being able to start games on time has been an issue with these Blackhawks for far too long.

•   They are not built to be able to play from behind, even though that is what they have the most practice at this season. Columbus is a team that Chicago should be able to hang with, but last night was a matchup between two teams that wanted it differently.

•   That’s going to be an issue as this season continues. With the Blackhawks out of the postseason chase and a decent number of players likely out the door by the March 21 NHL Trade Deadline, apathy is going to be as much of an opponent the team will need to overcome as the teams they face on the ice.

•   They don’t have much time to wallow in last night’s loss as the Dallas Stars, a team fighting for a wildcard spot in the Western Conference playoff race, come to town tonight.

•   A few positives from last night, including a powerplay goal from the second powerplay unit. When’s the last time that happened?

•   Ryan Carpenter gets his first goal of the season, increasing his trade value just a little bit in the process.

•   Alex DeBrincat scores his team-leading 29th goal of the season. He ranks fourth in the NHL in goals and is scoring at a 47.5-goal pace for an 82-game season.

•   DeBrincat scored 32 goals in 52 games last season and is on-pace to surpass his career-high in goals (41) set back in the 2018-19 season.

•   All eyes on the Blackhawks, apparently.

•   Scouts?

•   Some levity from last night, referee Chris Lee nearly dropped a big ol’ F-bomb for the entire viewing audience to hear…

•   Who among us, right?

•   Some significant news this morning for the Blackhawks as they have placed Jonathan Toews on IR, Jujhar Khaira on LTIR, and have recalled rookie Lukas Reichel for the second time this season.

•   Toews has been out with a concussion since January 26, suffered in a game against the Detroit Red Wings. He has been working-out off the ice since he has been in concussion protocol, but just yesterday was on the ice for a workout. It’s good news to see Toews on the ice, but his return is still questionable at this point.

•   As for Reichel, I’m excited to see him back in the NHL after making his debut on January 13 in what was a quick two-game stint a month ago. Reichel leads the Rockford IceHogs in goals (14) and points (33) this season, playing in 33 AHL games. He is one of eight active rookies in the AHL playing at a point-per-game pace this season. He can play up to seven more NHL games without “burning” the first year of his entry-level contract, something the Blackhawks may not want to do to keep him under his entry-level deal for an extra season. Although, with the NHL Trade Deadline coming up, Reichel could slot into the lineup for the remainder of the season with more roster spots opening up in the next month.

•   Hopefully coming back to the lineup soon is forward Tyler Johnson as he recovers from having neck surgery back in December.

•   Great sign for him after having the same ADR neck surgery as Jack Eichel, who we say return to the ice with the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this week.

•   Some “news” in the Blackhawks’ GM search. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Jason Botterill may or may not be in the mix.

•   Botterill is an assistant GM with the Seattle Kraken currently and previously was the assistant GM with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009-2017) and GM with the Buffalo Sabres from 2017-2020. Chicago has been announcing their own GM interviews after they have taken place, and they have not yet announced interviews with Botterill or Toronto Raptors VP of Basketball Operations Teresa Resch. So something to keep an eye on.

•   In Olympic Men’s Hockey news, we have our Gold Medal Final as Finland topped Slovakia 2-0 late last night, and Russia beat Sweden 2-1 in a shootout earlier this morning. We will see two former players with ties to the Blackhawks playing for Gold.

•   Three if you also count Artem Anisimov with Russia as a reserve player. Another former Blackhawk, Alexei Zhamnov, is the head coach of the Russian squad, so let’s call it four, eh?

•   Plenty more former Blackhawks and IceHogs players in the Bronze Medal game between Slovakia and Sweden.

•   The Bronze Medal game takes place tomorrow morning at 7:10 a.m CT, and the Gold Medal game taking place on Saturday night at 10:10 p.m. CT.

•   Finally, it appears we are getting closer to a 2024 World Cup of Hockey…

•   The 2024 World Cup of Hockey would reportedly take place in February of 2024, not in the summer. It would also reportedly take place in Italy, the site of the 2026 Winter Olympics, as a precursor to the 2026 Games. Also reported, it may or may not include the hugely popular Team North America squad, which was made of the top U23 players from the U.S. and Canada. In 2016, that team included Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Nathan MacKinnon to just name a few. Not sure how I feel about all these reported possibilities yet.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your TGIF Friday.

•   We will see you later tonight for Blackhawks-Stars at 7:30 p.m. CT!

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

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