It’s Thanksgiving week in the United States, which means a couple things in the NHL. First, this has become an unofficial benchmark on the calendar for teams to assess their start to the season and playoff chances; many still believe that you know if you’re good enough to make a run already at this point in the season. And, with that in mind, this is when you really start to hear some more serious trade chatter. We’ll see if the Blackhawks are involved in any early movement.
- Last night was a really good party at the United Center (before the game started). If there’s one thing the Blackhawks have done well off the ice over the past couple decades it’s celebrate their legends, and Sunday night was the latest example. Here are a couple more posts from (what’s left of) Twitter from a fun night.
- The Blackhawks also recognized Evgeni Malkin last night. The Penguins likely future Hall of Famer appeared in his 1,000th career regular season NHL game last night, all with Pittsburgh.
- On the ice, last night was the latest example(s) of what we’ve come to appreciate (and be frustrated by) with this year’s Chicago Blackhawks. It’s understandable that they got off to a slow start considering they were on the ice to warm up about 15 minutes after the Hossa ceremony ended; they allowed a goal 64 seconds into the game. But head coach Luke Richardson was still okay with how they started overall. The Hawks out-shot the Penguins in the first period and competed hard, just without a goal to show for it.
- The Blackhawks dug themselves a hole again last night, this time a three-goal deficit in the second period. But they climbed out of it, again. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks were able to get all the way back to tie the game at three, but Sidney Crosby scored almost immediately after Chicago’s third goal to provide the Penguins with the game-winner. Richardson noted after the game that they need to work on the goals they’ve allowed quickly after scoring themselves this season. But the comeback was admirable and the compete was there, which wasn’t the case in Boston where the Blackhawks were completely overwhelmed.
- One issue that I’ve noticed in recent games has been the play of Jake McCabe. I understand that Richardson and his staff are still trying to find defensive pairs that work and find ways to get guys on the ice consistently to develop chemistry, and the recall of Ian Mitchell without much real practice time with the NHL team hasn’t put him in an ideal situation, but McCabe’s play has left a lot to be desired. Most fans like to point at one of the young guys or Caleb Jones as the deficient defenseman in the group, but McCabe hasn’t been great and, with the young guys getting integrated, veterans like him need to stand taller.
- For Mitchell’s part, he was asked after the game about the Blackhawks going with five defensemen on the power play and if he felt like he was missing an opportunity. To his credit, Mitchell noted that he hasn’t had time to practice much with the guys on special teams and would be better suited to run the unit if he had some time to work on it. He also pointed out that the Blackhawks scored a goal in Boston with five forwards on the ice, so it clearly worked. With that being said, I would like to see someone with his defensive instincts getting some more run at some point on the power play. And Mitchell showed a couple flashes of increasing confidence in the third period that could serve him well if he gets the green light more frequently.
- Last night in Seattle, the US and Canada played the third game of their Rivalry Series in Seattle in front of a sold out Climate Pledge Arena. The US improved to 3-0 with a strong win, and Hillary Knight was honored for becoming the all-time leading point producer in the history of the Women’s World Championship.
- Finally, at least the Blackhawks can’t blame using the wrong puck for a missed shot that cost them a game.