The Blackhawks and Kings skated to another 2-1 overtime decision for the second straight Thursday night. This week’s edition required a lot more caffeine and ended with the Kings celebrating with 1.4 seconds left in OT. It was a heartbreaking final because the Blackhawks’ goaltender deserved better.
- Just how good was Petr Mrazek last night? The official shots on net reading 33-30 doesn’t really reflect how much of the game was spent in Chicago’s defensive end of the rink. Look at the scoring chances and high-danger chances below. Mrazek earned the Blackhawks one point last night. It’s a shame the skaters didn’t pick him up the other one.
- Jonathan Toews had himself a night last night as well. He led the Blackhawks with six shots on net, won 18 of 21 faceoffs and had the primary assist on the Hawks’ only goal. If you needed a performance to stamp that the Blackhawks’ captain is officially “back,” last night was it. Toews got dominated at the dot against the Kings last week and came back with a classic Captain Serious performance in LA.
- Sam Lafferty and Max Domi both won six of 11 faceoffs in the game as the Blackhawks had a much better performance as a team — led by Toews. The Kings won 60% of the faceoffs last week; the Blackhawks won 68% last night. That’s a sign of good individual performances and terrific coaching.
- Since returning from his sprained ankle, Boris Katchouk hasn’t done much of anything. He skated just nine shifts on Thursday night (9:03) and had four hits to show for the effort. In six appearances thus far, he has been credited with six shots on net and zero points. I understand the want for a physical player, but he’s struggling with the speed of the roster around him and it’s limiting the coach’s options to get him on the ice. When Tyler Johnson returns, I hope guys like Reese Johnson and MacKenzie Entwistle stay in the lineup and Katchouk has to fight for ice time with Jujhar Khaira because I’m struggling to see what the two veterans add that improves the roster from what Reese and Mac bring to the table.
- Mark Lazerus wrote a solid column for The Athletic reflecting on the loss in LA. I’ve talked a few times about the Blackhawks lacking the firepower to score a lot of goals — remember, they were supposed to be historically bad. And, with Tyler Johnson and Seth Jones out of the lineup it’s become even harder to score. So winning games is going to be an uphill climb every night.
- Here’s what Laz had to say about the Blackhawks’ bend-but-don’t-break play this season through the lens of last night’s effort:
It’s commendable, for sure, but is it sustainable? The Blackhawks continue to manage the puck poorly, continue to get hemmed in their own end — they started the third period just as helplessly as they ended the second — and continue to lean heavily on goaltending and special teams to pull out points and victories. In other words, they continue to play with fire, seemingly night after night.
- This is a great question that’s going to be increasingly perplexing for the front office if the Blackhawks keep hanging around the middle of the pack and have any kind of playoff chance whatsoever. An obvious offensive upgrade would be promoting Lukas Reichel, but they’re (rightfully) keeping him in Rockford until he’s really ready. And the plan isn’t to add to this roster… for now.
- The good news is Tyler Johnson is skating; hopefully he can return next week when the Blackhawks are back at the United Center. And Seth Jones will hopefully be back after that. But I think we all need to get used to the idea that this team is going to pour it all out every night working their collective asses off for a point or, hopefully, two.
- When the coffee kicked in during the first intermission, I wandered down a cinema rabbit hole because… the Blackhawks were in LA and Hollywood and all of the stuff. And… caffeine. Who would you cast to play someone on the current Blackhawks’ roster? Give our thread a look and put your thoughts in the comments below!
- Congrats to Mark Benard for being named an ECHL Hall of Famer! He’s done a nice job in Rockford over the past few years, and let’s keep in mind that his role hasn’t been an easy one with all of the moving pieces he’s had to navigate because of injuries and roster needs at the NHL level.
- Hoo boy did Detroit ever have a problem last night. They were tied with the Rangers 2-2 entering the third period and lost 8-2. Read that again… they gave up six goals in the third period!
- Jack was back — in Buffalo. And he made his presence known with authority. Well, he waited until the third period to score three times to put a hat trick on his former employer. When Eichel returned last year, he was booed out of the rink and said it was the loudest he’d ever heard the joint (ouch!). He wasn’t 100 percent when he went back the first time; right now he’s playing like the dominant power forward that was drafted second overall by the Sabres.
- Finally, since we’re talking about the idea of adding offense for the Blackhawks, the Cubs are apparently big game shopping right now.