One Timers: Blackhawks Feeling the Good Vibes, Aggressive Penalty Kill, No Goals for Kane, More

The Blackhawks have a tough week ahead with matchups against Florida and Edmonton and a visit to Buffalo to cap it off. But they’re riding the good vibes train this morning after three straight wins and back-to-back come-from-behind wins.

Good Vibes

After scoring two goals — both of the game-tying variety — Tyler Johnson told the reporters in the Blackhawks locker room that their “never out of it” mentality stems from a different feeling in the locker room this year.

“Well, I think it’s the feeling in the locker room. I mean, I guess you guys weren’t really around the locker room too much last year. But it’s a lot more fun this year. Guys have smiles on their face. They want to come to the rink every day and compete and work. And it’s been huge.”

Johnson’s first season in Chicago began under Jeremy Colliton and featured the Jenner & Block Report being made public in November after a horrendous start for the team. Those things together made the first few months of the Blackhawks’ season an unmitigated disaster.

So, it’s not surprising to hear that the locker room vibes are much different this year, if for no other reason than there being a new, clear message from the top down. Throw in a competent head coach and you can understand why things are rosier in the Hawks dressing room.

The Blackhawks probably won’t be able to sustain this type of success in the win column but building a healthy and happy locker room environment is a massive task for Luke Richardson that will pay off in the long term, and the early returns are promising.

When asked about Richardson’s impact on the team, the veteran forward praised Richardson’s approach on multiple levels:

“Well, I think number one is system, I think everyone’s playing the right way, playing the style that, you know, he wants us to play. That’s huge. When you have everyone on the ice thinking the same way, doing the same thing, that’s where teams are made.

“So that’s been huge, Obviously, off the ice, just in our video, already having some fun, you know, being able to kind of come together as a team, even though it’s been a short, short time and a lot of new faces. I feel like we’re a pretty together team already. And we just got to keep on building.”

Don’t let these wins fool you, this team will accomplish its goal of being bad by design, something that Tab reminded us of this morning. Still, it’s nice to hear from an accomplished veteran like Tyler Johnson that Richardson is having such a positive impact on the locker room.

Aggressive PK Philosophy Getting Results

The Blackhawks’ penalty kill was incredibly impressive to watch on Sunday. The four-minute double minor they killed off was a thing of beauty, not allowing Seattle a single shot on goal for three-plus minutes after the four-on-four ended.

The PK hasn’t gotten the same results in every game this season, and the Blackhawks are at 76.2 percent on the season, which ranks 20th in the NHL. But, if you remove the opener in Colorado in which the Blackhawks surrendered four power-play goals, they’ve successfully killed 15 of 16 penalties, good for a 93.7 percent penalty kill. That mark would be fifth-best in the NHL.

Throw in the Blackhawks’ four short-handed goals this season, and the Blackhawks own an impressive 95.2 percent net penalty kill percentage (sixth in the NHL). Simply, it’s been outstanding, and easily the most efficient phase of their game.

So, what’s the method behind the madness? According to the eye test, it’s aggression. According to Luke Richardson, it’s a simple formula: “instead of just sitting back and let the best players in the world come at you 100 miles an hour, why not try to disrupt before they’re going 100 miles an hour?”

Simple, right? That brings us back to the refreshing change that Richardson has brought, a stark contrast to the anti-simple that was everything Jeremy Colliton did here. Richardson’s straightforward, no-nonsense approach to things makes so much sense. The rookie head coach acknowledged that teams would adjust to their game plan but warned that the Blackhawks are ready to counter-adjust. That’ll be an interesting test for Richardson and his group. But for now, enjoying watching a unit clicking on all cylinders.

No Goals for Patrick Kane

We’re five games into the season, and Patrick Kane is still sporting a goose egg in the goal column, but Luke Richardson says he’s not worried about Kane’s scoring output.

“It’s great to see everybody contributing, and Patrick is a part of that,” Richardson said after Sunday’s victory at the United Center. “You know, he’s made some great plays. He probably could have a few more assists, and we just haven’t converted on it; he hit the post last game and just missed tonight, and I know he’s probably frustrated and wants to score, but as long as our team is having success and he’s part of it, we all have to just have patience with that, and he’s too good of a player not to be on the board soon enough anyways.”

Richardson hit it on the head on both points; Kane is contributing to a balanced scoring attack and has three assists. His presence alone opens up opportunities for those around him, even when he doesn’t have an assist. Max Domi has three goals in five games. Andreas Athanasiou has a goal, an assist, and nine shots in five games.

While Kane doesn’t have any goals, he’s making an impact. Also, as Richardson said, Kane is just too good, and the goals will start to come. Kane had one goal in his first five games last season and then erupted for a hat trick in the sixth game against Ottawa, and Kane tallied 61 of his 92 points after December 1 last season. The goals are coming; no reason to worry about 88.

One-Timers

  • Jujhar Khaira is one of the many Blackhawks who would like to forget the 2021-22 season entirely. Khaira spent much of the season injured and didn’t wow anyone when he was healthy. Khaira played an excellent game last night, tallying his first point of the season with a goal that came on a chance that started with him picking Vince Dunn’s pocket in the Blackhawks’ D zone.
  • Can we talk about the Kurashev/Lafferty/Dickinson line? That line has a 42.8 percent goals for a rating in 5v5 situations, second to only the Toews/Raddysh/Johnson line (66.6 percent). Sam Lafferty leads the group with five points (2G, 3A), Jason Dickinson is right behind him with three points (2G, 2A), and the same for Kurashev, who checks in with three points (1G, 2A).
  • Filip Roos has been very impressive in his opportunities this season, and I was very impressed in my first live look at him during the regular season. I was immediately impressed with his smooth skating, calmness with the puck, and his overall relaxed-looking game. We should be done with the Caleb Jones thing, and let Roos get consistent playing time.
  • A play worth sharing from Jake McCabe:
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    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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