Shootout Shutout, Reichel's Return, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Shootout Shutout, Reichel’s Return, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night was 65 minutes of scoreless hockey. Never great. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a story. Marc-André Fleury put on a show recording his fourth shutout of the season, making all 29 saves asked of him and then a few more in the shootout, which was ultimately won by the Dallas Stars. It’s the kind of performance we’ve see a number of times from Fleury this season that proves, even at 37-years-old, he still has it and if he was on a team that could provide some goal support he could do real damage in the Stanley Cup Playoff chase.

•   29 saves, none bigger than this one…

•   Fleury’s shutout performance through regulation and overtime set some Blackhawks history last night.

•   He also became the 50th goalie in NHL history to get a shutout in a losing effort.

•   Not to be outdone last night, Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger recorded the actual shutout, making 34 saves in 65 minutes of hockey, plus a few more in the shootout. He was going up against one of his goaltending idols last night and did not disappoint.

•   Remember folks, in the 2017 NHL Draft the Blackhawks swapped first-round picks with the Dallas Stars. Dallas selected Oettinger. Chicago selected Henri Jokiharju. Them’s the breaks.

•   After giving up seven goals to the Columbus Blue Jackets the night before, allowing zero against a more talented Stars team is a bit of an encouraging sign for the Blackhawks.

•   But still, Marc-André Fleury, much like Corey Crawford before him, covers a lot of holes in Chicago’s defensive game.

•   One thing I will not get over from last night’s shootout was the usage of defenseman Jake McCabe. In the do-or-die portion of the shootout, McCabe was sent out for his first-ever NHL shootout attempt. It did not go well. The very next shooter for Dallas was rookie Jacob Peterson and he scored to win the game.

•   I just…I don’t know. Would the extra point matter if the Blackhawks go on to win the shootout? Probably not. But that’s not a decision I like from Derek King.

•   Rookie Lukas Reichel made his three appearance this season for the Blackhawks last night. It’s his second call-up of the year, having made his first two NHL appearances back on January 13 and 15 for Chicago.

•   Last night, while still searching for his first NHL point, Reichel again looked like someone who is not entirely out of place playing at the NHL level. He logged the most minutes of his three NHL games, created a few chances and won more faceoffs than he lost, playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel.

•   He’s growing and learning in the NHL. Learning the pace and learning the physicality. Definitely learning the physicality…

•   But this is a 19-year-old player who is who coming into the NHL having only played against players his own age. Reichel’s last three seasons of hockey have all been played against Men, spending two years in the DEL and this season mainly with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL. Where, by the way, he is averaging a point per game.

•   Reichel will likely only see a few games on this latest stint in the NHL. It still appears to be the case that the Blackhawks are taking this season slow with him and will likely avoid playing him in more than nine games with the Blackhawks this season, so his entry-level deal can slide another season. I’m fine if that is the case, but I’d also be fine seeing what he can do the rest of the season in the NHL. There’s pros and cons to both strategies for Chicago, but at this point, it looks like they have a really good player own their hands.

•   Reichel is probably the biggest reason for Blackhawks fans to look forward to the future as of right now. The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus has nine more reasons besides Reichel for fans to get excited about in Chicago.

•   Another reason to look forward to the future for the Blackhawks is their NCAA pipeline of players. Headlined by Boston’s Drew Commesso, Chicago has a really good crop of players in the NCAA right now that also includes Alex Vlasic, Taige Harding, Wyatt Kaiser, Connor Kelley, Jake Wise, Ryder Rolston and Landon Slaggert, to name a few. Last night, Slaggert scored his tenth goal of the season, a game-winner for Notre Dame.

•   Slaggert has 22 points in 31 games for the Irish this season, three points behind fellow Blackhawks prospect Rolston who has 25 points in 29 games. The pair are second and third on Notre Dame in scoring this season.

•   In Olympic hockey news this morning, former Blackhawks Marko Daňo and Tomáš Jurčo helped the Slovakian team shutout Sweden 4-0 in the Bronze Medal game. This is the first time since Slovakia became an independent nation that they have earned an Olympic medal.

•   The Men’s Gold Medal game between Finland and Russia (R.O.C.) takes place later tonight at 10:10 p.m. CT. Blackhawks prospect Artur Kayumov, along with former Blackhawks Artem Anisimov (reserve) and Alexei Zhamnov (head coach) look to help Russia repeat as Gold Medalists against Finland and former IceHogs defenseman Ville Pokka.

•   The next time some tells you that “no one watches women’s hockey,” laugh in their face.

•   The U.S.-Canada Gold Medal game, which was a 10:10 p.m. CT puck drop, drew 3.54M viewers on NBC alone. This doesn’t count streaming numbers and of course doesn’t account for the viewers in Canada on CBC. Likely, with all of those numbers combined, I’d venture a guess that over 10 million peoples were watching live in North America, probably more.

•   So the next time someone who hasn’t changed their opinion of women’s sports since the 1990’s tells you no one watches women’s hockey, again, laugh in their face.

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



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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