Missed Opportunities, Kurashev’s Golden Chance, Lineup Changes, Derek King’s Muffins, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Hey, now it’s starting to feel like Spring in Chicago. We’ll flirt with 70° this afternoon, and I’ll be soaking up the sunshine at the ballpark (the one on 35th & Shields) with my Dad for his birthday. But first, let’s get into this morning’s happenings in Blackhawks hockey.

•   The stage was set for Kevin Lankinen to take hold of the Blackhawks goaltending job and earn himself a new contract in Chicago when Marc-André Fleury was traded to the Minnesota Wild on deadline day. Unfortunately, Lankinen simply has not taken advantage of the opportunity. The impending UFA has allowed 27 goals in seven starts since the NHL trade deadline passed on March 21, good for a .882 save percentage.

•   Derek King chalked Lankinen’s most recent clunker up to an off night, but it’s his job to support his guys, even when the eye test tells us that he’s wrong. I wrote more about the missed opportunity for the 26-year-old netminder yesterday:

•   Speaking of opportunities to shine, Philipp Kurashev is another Hawks player with a golden one in front of him right now. Kurashev skated on the Blackhawks’ top line on Sunday night and scored a goal, albeit one that took a lucky bounce off of Dallas defenseman Esa Lindell’s skate. Kurashev joked that he drew it up exactly as such:

•   Jokes aside, Kurashev is an RFA after this season, but he’s spent his time with the Blackhawks cycling from top-six forward to bottom-six forward to healthy scratch. Kurashev feels like he’s best suited for a top-six role, and Derek King said that in an ideal world, he too believes that Kurashev is suited for a top-six role. The problem is that Kurashev’s performance hasn’t matched his potential.

•   Ben Pope of the Sun-Times wrote up a good story on Kurashev on Monday:

•   Derek King has some lineup changes for tonight’s contest with the Los Angeles Kings. These were the lines at Monday’s practice, as King said he would flip Lukas Reichel and Taylor Raddysh on the second and third lines from Sunday nights lines, and Tyler Johnson and Henrik Borgström will be healthy scratches again tonight.

• King also said Collin Delia would be in net for the Blackhawks tonight and that Caleb Jones (a healthy scratch on Sunday) will be coming back into the lineup, but King wasn’t sure who would be coming out for him.

•   An interesting comment by Derek King on Tuesday about rookie defenseman Alex Vlasic when asked about an increased effort on the offensive side of the ice in Sunday’s loss to Dallas: “Yeah, that is [increasing] confidence with him. We want him to learn to play defense first though not offense. But, yeah, it’s good to see him … he’s a nice skater when he gets going, and he was good. He jumped up, had the puck, didn’t turn it over, took it wide … stuff like that’s good. I think he still needs to pick his spots if he’s going to do that, but I like that he feels confident enough in his ability to do stuff like that.”

•   King likes that Vlasic, who has played less than 10 NHL games, feels confident in his game, but he’s still not sold on his abilities on the defensive side of things.

•   The Chicago Blackhawks will celebrate pride night tonight at the United Center when they take on the Los Angeles Kings, focusing on supporting local businesses with ties to the LGBTQIA+ community. The Blackhawks shared details on tonight’s festivities in a press release on Monday:

•   In a light-hearted moment, Derek King entered the media room at Fifth Third Arena on Monday with a tray of homemade muffins that his wife baked. They were pretty tasty!

•   Joe Brand and Chris Boden’s conversation with Pat Foley aired on WGN Radio last night, and you can check it out here if you missed the discussion with the legendary voice of the Chicago Blackhawks, who will call two more games this week before he hangs up the headset for good.

•   If the Bulls have any hope of running with the defending champs, Patrick Williams will be an essential player. More on P-Will’s potential impact in the playoffs from Eli:

•   Mock drafts are ramping up with the NFL Draft just a few weeks away, and Luis has you covered with a roundup of the latest mocks floating around the interwebs this week:

•   No Blackhawks game coverage for me tonight because of the trip mentioned above to the ballpark with my Dad for his birthday, but I’ll break it down in tomorrow’s bullets.

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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