More Goalie Drama, Special Team(s) Stress, Injury Impact, Ovechkin Passes Howe, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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More Goalie Drama, Special Team(s) Stress, Injury Impact, Ovechkin Passes Howe, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks just completed a stretch of nine games in 16 days and came out the back end 4-3-2. Not bad, especially when you consider they beat should-be playoff teams like the Panthers and Kings. The Hawks have gone from a four-game win streak to a four-game losing streak already this season, so the ups and downs we were told would probably happen already are. Now we can all enjoy a little bit of a break before the Hawks get back on the ice. Their next game is Thursday night in Los Angeles.

It appears none of the mainstream beat reporters were in Winnipeg for the game on Saturday, so the coverage was fairly limited overnight. But there’s still a lot more we can takeaway from the long stretch of games and yesterday’s loss.

  • Dylan Wells had to jump into the game on Saturday afternoon because Arvid Söderblom left with an injury. Wells did an admirable job in his first NHL action, and veteran defenseman Jake McCabe made sure he had a memento from the occasion. .
  • The Blackhawks are not practicing on Sunday or Monday, giving the boys a much deserved break from the ice before they hit the road for a couple to start another long stretch of hockey. The overwhelming question when they are back on the ice Tuesday will be who is available for the blue paint assignment in LA on Thursday night? Head coach Luke Richardson said last week when Alex Stalock got hurt that they hoped Petr Mrazek could join the team for Thursday’s game; he’s practiced with the team a couple times on his way back from a groin injury. But if Mrazek, Stalock and now Söderblom can’t go…
  • Other than the health of the goaltending group, the other big issue emerging for the Blackhawks is their special teams units. They allowed four special teams goals on Saturday afternoon — three power play goals and one short-handed — in a flat loss. And the penalty kill struggling isn’t new. Ben Pope dug in on the issues we’re starting to see.
  • Of course it’s easy for me sitting on the couch to say “Well, just don’t go to the box. Be more disciplined” (even if Richardson is begging them in the same words). And we cannot ignore the reality that Tyler Johnson and Seth Jones help the Blackhawks’ power play immensely (and everything else from normal ice time distribution on the blue line to the lines Richardson would prefer to run up front). This Blackhawks team was looking at an uphill climb to start what was supposed to be a really tough year and surprised us with some good play. But injuries make even the best teams look mediocre. And the Blackhawks have some significant players on the shelf right now.
  • Alex Regula got back into the lineup on Saturday afternoon. He skated exactly 17 minutes and put one shot on net with one credited blocked shot. An okay performance. The four credited giveaways are a concern. Caleb Jones didn’t have a good afternoon, either. The Hawks need all six defensemen to be working well together and they didn’t have much go right on Saturday.
  • Jonathan Toews uncharacteristically got his butt kicked at the dot against the Kings on Thursday. He bounced back with a strong afternoon in Winnipeg, winning 13 of 21. He was also credited with two takeaways — which stood out to me. In the past, Toews did well in the takeaway department. Including his two yesterday, Toews has been credited with six takeaways in 12 games — a number that’s less than half the team leader Max Domi‘s 13.
  • The Washington Capitals broke out their screamin’ eagle reverse retro jerseys on Saturday and Alexander Ovechkin made some more history. Not only did he score his 787th career goal (passing Mr. Hockey for the most ever in one jersey), but his 1,421st career point passed Adam Oates (who wore the original screamin’ eagle jersey in Washington) into 19th place on the NHL’s all-time point list. Somehow the Capitals lost the game to the Coyotes with the history made.
  • Finally, I know for a fact that I’m not the only one on the staff here at Bleacher Nation who’s excited to have a Jordan ambassador playing for the Bears now. Those cleats in orange and navy are fire!

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab