As I noted in my postgame takeaways last night after the Blackhawks’ 5-2 loss, I’m going to wear some responsibility for the performance. I made the mistake of pointing out that Ryan O’Reilly had not registered a point at the United Center since joining the Blues (he had two). My bad.
- To borrow from Luis, our intrepid Bears reporter, last night’s game against the Blues was a “tank win.” St. Louis is still behind the Blackhawks in the standings, but they’ve now won four in a row and are streaking in the right direction (from their perspective). The loss also get the Blackhawks back into the top ten for a potential draft order in 2023. I know a lot of you aren’t big fans of the idea of purposeful losses, but last night’s game wasn’t totally bad in the big picture.
- Something I have appreciated from Jack Johnson this year is that he doesn’t care to talk through the usual vanilla, cliché answers that so many professional athletes do. After the game last night he was pretty blunt in his assessment of the Blackhawks’ defensive performance.
- Bad news on the injury front yesterday. It looks like Seth Jones‘ thumb isn’t progressing as quickly as we all hoped. Reports from the (optional) morning skate yesterday are that Seth is going to get re-evaluated in a couple weeks and go for another x-ray because he’s still experiencing discomfort. Which will put more pressure on a blue line that’s struggling in their current roles — especially Seth’s brother, Caleb. Here’s what head coach Luke Richardson said after last night’s loss (from the Ben Pope article below):
“Right from the beginning, we have [missed him], but it shows now,” Richardson said. “We’re trying to bide our time to get him back. It’s a collective group, not just the six ‘D’ that are in the lineup, but we have to play better defensively, kill those plays and get going on the offense — so we’re not in that ‘D’-zone for a long time, so we don’t overwork guys that are playing a little bit more and higher up on the totem pole [than normal].”
- With the Blackhawks’ defensemen struggling since Seth Jones left the lineup, it makes this next bit even more noteworthy. One guy I had high hopes for this season back in September was Ian Mitchell, whose start to the new year was delayed because of a write injury. Well, his third game with Rockford was a four-point effort yesterday! Maybe it’s time for him to join the big club? Heaven knows the power play could use a better quarterback and it sounds like the Blackhawks will need one for a couple weeks (at least).
- Before Wednesday’s game, Patrick Kane was asked about his impressions of Marian Hossa when the Blackhawks signed the future Hall of Famer. His comments are… strong. And on par with everything we’ve heard, read and seen from Hossa over the years.
- Kane’s son absolutely stole the show on social media before the game when he spent a few minutes with his dad through the glass. Who’s cutting onions?
- While those are feel-good Kane moments, there’s still the looming reality that this is the last season of his (and Jonathan Toews‘) contract in Chicago. Elliotte Friedman made his weekly appearance on the NHL Network on Sirius/XM Radio on Thursday morning and the guys on the NHL Morning Skate show and was specifically asked about the future of the two superstars in Chicago. Friedman reiterated that his belief is Kane and Toews are still going to wait until December to look around at the market and gauge the Blackhawks’ season to date before having any conversations with the front office. However, Friedman also offered the caveat that, if either player doesn’t want to leave for a reason (like not moving family to be a rental) they don’t necessarily have to go anywhere and could wait to move until the summer — if either does that then.
- Scott Wheeler at The Athletic dropped his predictions for four of the top rosters for the upcoming World Juniors, and the Blackhawks are pretty well represented.
- Wheeler has Ethan Del Mastro as the top-pair left defenseman for Canada, and Kevin Korchinski as the third defenseman on their roster. He also mentions Nolan Allan as an option on the left side, which is additionally interesting considering Allan and Korchinski are now teammates in Seattle. Regarding Del Mastro on the top pair, Wheeler wrote:
I think returnees Ethan Del Mastro and Olen Zellweger make a lot of sense as Canada’s first pairing, with the steadying, physical presence of Del Mastro allowing Zellweger to player his brilliant, roaming style.
- Victor Stjernborg, who Wheeler calls “a real energizing Blackhawks prospect,” is listed as a third line wing for Sweden.
- He noted Frank Nazar isn’t included for the USA roster because he is still out injured.
- There’s a lot of buzz in the market about a new marketing deal the Chicago Wolves announced on Wednesday… yeah, I’ll show myself out.
- Finally, this is an interesting nugget from the baseball world. Two New York teams colluding on a superstar player?