After one full day with the crew here at Bleacher Nation, I can confidently say this is going to be a fun ride. Thanks to everyone who reached out or commented here with the news yesterday. We’re excited to crank up the puck talk!
The Blackhawks, however, have fully entered their offseason. And that means, in the short term, things might get a little quiet. Kyle Davidson put a wrap on the 2021-22 season with his media availability on Tuesday, and the NHL likes teams to keep significant announcements to a minimum during the postseason to keep the attention of fans on the ice.
Unlike the NHL club, the Rockford IceHogs are actually playing meaningful hockey right now. That’s where we’ll jump in to start today’s bullets.
• The IceHogs beat the Texas Stars 2-1 on Wednesday night. The goals came from forwards Lukas Reichel and Carson Gicewicz. Arvid Söderblom got the start in net and made 33 saves in the win. Here’s what Reichel had to say after the game:
• I’m always interested in AHL lineups in the postseason. You’ve got some players with NHL experience sent down and players from junior who get called up to make for a crowded roster. So who plays and who sits is something to watch. One scratch of note for me was forward Andrei Altybarmakyan, who scored 10 goals in 65 games for Rockford this season.
• He’s a restricted free agent this summer and, entering his age-24 season (his birthday is Aug. 4), might find himself looking for a new gig.
• Another notable press box attendee last night was defenseman Nicolas Beaudin. The IceHogs rolled with Ian Mitchell, Alec Regula, Wyatt Kalynuk, Isaak Phillips, Jakub Galvas and Ryan Stanton on the blue line. When we start discussing the loaded blue line in both Chicago and Rockford for next year, four of the names that were dressed last night are under contract beyond this season; Stanton is on an AHL contract and Kalynuk is an RFA.
• Beaudin, who will turn 23 on Oct. 7, was a first-round pick by the Hawks (27th overall) in 2018. He has appeared in 22 NHL games to date, two of which came this season. One has to wonder with the emergence of both Regula and Alex Vlasic in their NHL time this year if Beaudin’s NHL future is elsewhere. We’ll see if he draws into the lineup in future games.
Gicewicz with the deflection. IceHogs with the 2-0 lead😄 pic.twitter.com/WKnEfWgIcX
— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) May 5, 2022
• When you see a name you don’t recognize with a game-winning goal in a playoff game, it’s worth digging in a little. So who is Carson Gicewicz? The 25-year-old center is with Rockford on an AHL deal this season, his second with the team. He spent three years at St. Lawrence University before the pandemic cut the 2019-20 season short at just two games. He finished his collegiate career at UMass-Amherst before signing with the IceHogs last year; he appeared in 10 games with Rockford last season.
• Gicewicz scored five goals in 61 games for the IceHogs this season, to his redirect of a Phillips shot to earn the GWG was a pleasant surprise.
• On the NHL ice last night, there were two performances Blackhawks should specifically care about. Marc-André Fleury led the Wild to a 6-2 win last night. Well, if we’re honest, the hat trick from Kirill Kaprizov was as much a factor as Fleury’s 32 saves. But this win for Fleury matters because of the trade Minnesota made to acquire the future Hall of Famer. If the Wild make it to the Western Conference Final and Fleury wins four games, the Blackhawks get the Wild’s first-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft. If not, Chicago sticks with Minnesota’s second rounder. One down, three to go.
• Minnesota and St. Louis are now tied at one win each with the series headed to Missouri. Fleury is one of many reasons for Blackhawks fans to be cheering for the Wild — and against the Blues.
• Duncan Keith skated 21:14 as the Oilers shutout the Kings 6-0 to bring that series square as well. He was second among Oilers’ defensemen in ice time after ranking fourth among Edmonton blue liners with 18:04 on ice in the Kings’ Game One win.
• The stipulation on the pick Edmonton traded to Chicago to get Keith last summer are: Keith has to rank among the Oilers’ top four defensemen in ice time in the first three rounds and Edmonton must reach the Stanley Cup Final for the Blackhawks to get Edmonton’s second-round pick this year. If those criteria aren’t met, Chicago gets their third. So Keith getting a heavy workload and the Oilers winning is a good thing for the Hawks.
• The NHL jumping to TNT this year has been fun because Charles Barkley gets it. He’s told anyone willing to listen that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are the best playoffs. On Wednesday night, the crossover event of the year happened when the Stanley Cup visited their NBA set. As always, Chuck showed his hockey knowledge…
Chuck knows… https://t.co/xoMxNe4QTb
— The Stanley Cup (@StanleyCup) May 5, 2022
• Betting the over in minor league baseball? How about the Cubs’ Low-A affiliate posting a football score on Wednesday?
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 5, 2022