An Eye on Ovi, Lines Mixed, Mrazek’s Return, Slashes Everywhere, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

The Blackhawks aren’t practicing on Sunday, so we’ll have a lovely, quiet day of rest while watching the transaction wire and tonight’s game in Winnipeg between the Jets and Washington Capitals. Why do I care about the Caps-Jets game?

  • The Blackhawks’ defense has been a struggle frequently this season. With injuries, inconsistent play, trying to get people on on the ice and into the rotation more frequently and… well, just not a lot of sustained time in the offensive zone, pressure has been on Chicago’s back end all year. Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times spoke with a few guys and the head coach about how they can better defend against an odd-man rush. I really liked the amount of detail Richardson provided in this answer when Pope asked about sliding to take away a 2-on-1:
  • “If you’re going to slide, you have to slide at the guy, and your body has to be through the passing lane,” he said. “It can’t be your stick [in the lane]. Guys are too skilled in this league. If you have a 1-inch stick to stop a pass, they’re going to thread that through.

    “You have to slide at a kind of 45-degree angle [toward] the player with the puck. If your body’s in the passing lane, that means they’ll have to lift the puck, saucer-pass it 2 feet high and land it within 4 feet. That’s pretty hard to do nowadays, especially if it’s later in the period and the ice is bad. As you’re going at the guy, usually the equipment is so big . . . the puck will touch something. It just throws the timing off, and maybe it doesn’t even get through.”

  • Chicago’s offense has struggled since the start of November as well. There’s hope that the Blackhawks might get Tyler Johnson back at some point soon, but with news on Saturday that forward Andreas Athanasiou will miss Tuesday night’s game against the Capitals because of a family funeral, the lines went in a blender at practice. I’m at least intrigued with the move of Sam Lafferty up to the wing opposite Patrick Kane.
  • It sounds like Petr Mrazek might be able to return to the lineup on Tuesday night against the Caps. He’s been working his way back from another groin injury.
  • Can a guy get suspended for hitting a teammate in the face with his stick? Asking for a friend…
  • I wonder if Chabot will get a game or two for friendly fire? Jeff Skinner got three for lumberjacking Jake Guentzel on Friday night. The two teams played each other on back-to-back nights.
  • Jack Johnson didn’t lose it nearly as much as Jeff Skinner did on Friday night, but he was still legit pissed at Michael Eyssimont after the two got mixed up behind the net. It was pretty clear on Saturday that Johnson wasn’t a fan of the… “young kid” that he got involved with, though he didn’t care enough to even remember his name. I’m absolutely here for this level of disrespect for a division opponent. Love to see it.
  • Today’s Ugly Moments in Box Score History is a reminder from Mike Commito of one of the highest scoring games in Blackhawks history. Chicago lost to the visiting Edmonton Oilers 12-9 at the Chicago Stadium 37 years ago. The Party Line — Al Secord, Denis Savard and Steve Larmer — finished that game minus-seven each! The Oilers got hat tricks from both Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri and, somehow, Charlie Huddy and Dave Hunter finished without a single point for the visitors.
  • With high-scoring games in mind, did y’all catch the Bulls game last night? Because they went off against the Dallas Mavericks!
  • written by

    Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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