Figuring Out the Future, 2,034,072 Minutes, Golden Finns, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Figuring Out the Future, 2,034,072 Minutes, Golden Finns, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

So usually in these Blackhawks Bullets, I start off with talking about the Blackhawks. A simple concept, right? Well today I’m going to start with talking about former Blackhawks. Starting with former Chicago goaltender J.F. Berube. And before you get confused about the headline of today’s bullets, just know I was inspired by his story and by the song from “Rent.”

•   2,034,072 minutes. That’s how long it has been (roughly) since Berube started a game in the NHL. That last game was on April 6, 2018 for the Chicago Blackhawks against the St. Louis Blues, a 4-1 loss for Chicago in the home finale of the 2017-18 season.

•   In that time, Berube has been with five AHL teams in the past four seasons. Playing in 43 games with the Cleveland Monsters in 2018-19, 29 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and seven games with the Hartford Wolfpack in 2019-20, 19 games in 2020-21 with the Ontario Reign, and 17 games again with the Cleveland Monsters this season. Now today he makes his 35th NHL appearance of his career when he suits up for the Columbus Blue Jackets. That’s pretty wild. Good luck to him.

•   Also, crazy to see a longer lay-off for the man known in the hockey world as the Hamburglar as Andrew Hammond makes his first NHL start since March 28, 2018 when he played in one game that season for the Colorado Avalanche.

•   Good luck to both of them.

•   Another former member of The Blackhawks organization had a great night last night in Beijing as defenseman Ville Pokka and Finland topped Russia (R.O.C.) for the 2022 Men’s Olympic Hockey Gold Medal!

•   Finland had never won Olympic Gold in the Men’s tournament before last night. They had twice taken home Silver in 1988 and 2006, with four Bronze Medal finishes in 1994, 1998, 2010, and 2014.

•   Following the tournament, the Olympic All-Star team and MVP were named and former Blackhawk Lucas Wallmark of Sweden made the All-Star team. The MVP ended up being 2022 NHL Draft prospect Juraj Slafvoksky from Slovakia.

•   Slafkovsky led the tournament in goals with the highest goal total for a player 18 or younger ever. He also ends the tournament tied for most points by a U18 player at the Olympics with seven. He ties Eddie Olczyk who also had seven points in 1984 for Team USA.

•   The 17-year-old is expected to be a lottery pick in this year’s NHL Draft, with his draft class ranking ranging anywhere from fourth to 14th based on who you ask. He’d fall right into where the Blackhawks would be selecting in their year’s Draft, if only they held onto their own first-round pick. He’s a big, goal-scoring winger. Something Chicago wouldn’t mind having in their system, I’m sure.

•   Makes you think, eh?

•   As far as the future goes, the blue-line in Chicago should be filled with talent in the not-too-distant future. So long as the Blackhawks start giving their young players the NHL ice-time they are deserving of.

•   Jakub Galas, Alec Regula, Ian Mitchell, Isaak Phillips, etc. These guys need to start making their way into the NHL lineup as the season continues on. We need more things to look forward to for the Blackhawks, rather than continuing to gripe about why Erik Gustafsson is still playing on this team.

•   Also speaking of the future, the Daily Herald’s John Dietz put together a few notes on what the futures may hold for Blackhawks players like Kirby Dach and Dominik Kubalík. One who is supposed to be part of the future and one who is supposed to be traded in the next month.

•   Dietz is one of the leaders of the “Kirby Dach to the wing” movement. Not to sound big-headed, but I also consider myself a high-ranking office of the movement as well. We saw on Friday night that Dach, while listed in the lineup as the centerman between Sam Lafferty and Philipp Kurashev, it was Lafferty who ended up taking the majority of the faceoffs. Dach took just one, and lost it. For reference, Lukas Reichel was centering the top-line with Brandon Hagel and Patrick Kane, winning four of the seven draws he took on Friday night.

•   Dach’s game is improving. His defensive responsibility for a 21-year-old is pretty darn good. He has seen an up-tick in production recently as well, recording one goal and five assist in his last seven games. Basically, outside of taking faceoffs, he is becoming a more well-rounded player as he starts to gain some confidence this season. Taking faceoffs is only one part of playing center, but I’d argue it’s close to being the most important part of the position, seeing as every faceoff starts with you. I’d rather start as many plays as possible with the puck, rather than chasing it.

•   On Dominik Kubalík, Dietz notes that his ice time has decreased over the season and his offensive creation is drying up as well. Kubalík has ten goals and 19 points in 51 games this season. In 56 games last season, he had 17 goals and 38 points. In his rookie season, he reached the 30-goal mark in 68 games. He’s not the same player he once was and maybe similarly to Dach, his confidence in his game is dwindling. It’s unfortunate from a business standpoint to think the Blackhawks will not only not be keeping what looked to be another promising young player, but also they will be selling-low on him as the trade deadline approaches.

•   The JFresh public voting polls have spoke: Most people do not believe the Blackhawks should be recouping a first-round pick for any of their trade targets…

•   I’d like to meet the 2% of voters who believe that Calvin de Haan is worthy of a first-round pick. Just to pick their brains.

•   In case you missed it yesterday, Jamie Benn was hit with a $5,000 fine for squirting MacKenzie Entwistle with water as he skated back to the Blackhawks bench following a big hit that saw him have to be checked-out for a concussion.

•   Jerk move.

•   Chicago announced a sellout on Friday night, but seeing the stands during the broadcast and seeing pictures from inside the UC…I’m more than skeptical of that.

•   Not burying the team or anything, but this was a rescheduled game and I’m sure most of those tickets were already sold. So call it a sellout* if you will.

•   Someone who was burying the Blackhawks yesterday was former centerman David Kämpf…

•   Ouch.

•   Hey, good for him though. Going to the Maple Leafs and finding success with a loaded team who could make a Stanley Cup Playoff run has to feel good.

•   Coming off of a loss last night that snapped a four-game winning streak, the Rockford IceHogs are in action this afternoon, hosting the same Grand Rapids Griffins that they lost to last night.

•   Rockford is holding onto a playoff spot in the AHL Central Division, currently third based on point-percentage (.548) with 30 games remaining on their schedule.

•   Ever wanted to learn Russian? Rockford’s Andrei Altybarmakyan is here to help…

•   I learned something new today.

•   A Happy Blackhawks Birthday to Phil Esposito today!

•   Highlight of the night last night in the WHL, top 2022 draft prospect Dylan Guenther completing the hat-trick with a backhand “Michigan” goal!

•   Guenther finished with four goals in the game, a 9-1 win for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Blackhawks prospect Jalen Luypen finished with a pair of assists in the game and ranks third on the Oil Kings with 50 points in 47 games this season.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Sunday afternoon full of hockey.

•   We will see you soon for Blackhawks-Panthers at 2:00 p.m. CT!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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