The Blackhawks lost again last night. I’m emotionally moving on from three losses in four nights and choosing to enter the weekend with a renewed sense of WHEN WILL DANSBY SWANSON MAKE A DECISION?
- The World Junior Championships begin one week from Monday. I’m actually pretty excited to watch the games this winter because of the influence the Blackhawks’ prospects will have on the back end for Canada. If you’re looking for who might be in line to make a jump to the AHL by the end of their season and be in line for an NHL gig in the not-too-distant future, my sense is Kevin Korchinski and Ethan Del Mastro are at the top of the list. Canada threw a mic on Del Mastro during training camp recently.
- For the second straight game/loss, Jake McCabe and Seth Jones graded out as the best Blackhawks on the ice. Maybe they should spend more time together?
- As I noted in the postgame wrap last night, McCabe made a terrific play to break up an odd-man rush in the third period. He’s playing really good hockey more nights than not right now and, at a $4 million cap hit with two years of term remaining on his deal, might become a very tempting piece for a team that has a little wiggle room before the deadline. There are a few teams that desperately need defensemen, and the Blackhawks have their share. Of course, Stan Bowman signed McCabe so he has a limited no-move clause…
- It’s natural that we’ve reached the point of this losing skid that players are starting to second guess themselves and long for missed opportunities. Max Domi told the media after the game that they (to borrow from Tom Petty) won’t back down, but the struggle is that the schedule doesn’t exactly do the Blackhawks any favors. After three games in four days, they come home to face the only team they’ve beat since mid-November, the Rangers. You think they aren’t out for some revenge?
- Because sometimes you need a smile…
- Arpon Basu of The Athletic wrote a piece about development from a Canadiens’ perspective, with some takeaways from Habs players and a couple of the Ducks — the only team worse than the Blackhawks right now. While the piece is from a Montreal perspective, I thought this quote from Trevor Zegras was especially poignant, and noteworthy considering the Blackhawks’ plan to develop guys long enough that they’re really ready:
“It’s tough,” Zegras said, something he has surely repeated countless times this season. “This is your every day, you kind of live this sport. When things aren’t going great, it’s easy to just kind of turn on each other and think of why is this happening to us? But all we have is each other at this point and we’re leaning on each other for pretty much everything.
“I guess when you think about the numbers and where we’re at and the standings and all that good stuff, you can kind of lose your mind in that just because, like I said, you live it every day. So, I think the biggest thing is we’ve got a great group of guys in here, we’re just going to stick together and gut this thing out.”
Gutting this thing out for four months can’t be good for development.
“It’s a tough mindset to have going into a season that it’s a developmental year, because we all grew up playing this game to win, and losing sucks, man,” Zegras said. “It’s not fun.”
- Basu does a really nice job (again: from a Canadiens perspective) of framing what he sees as a problem with the young lineup in Anaheim versus the accountability that Martin St. Louis is working to establish in Montreal. And he wraps the two rooms — one depressed because of a loss, the other more comfortable with the reality — in such a way that you see how top tier, previously successful prospects like Mason McTavish (the MVP of this summer’s World Juniors) are getting too comfortable with the perception that the organization’s process (not necessarily winning) equates to acceptance of players’ efforts being sub-par. Give this a read because there’s a lot you can take away when you consider what the Blackhawks are doing right now.
- Speaking of prospects, Paul Ludwinski scored an overtime game-winner last night. Let’s enjoy that together, shall we?
- And here’s a lovely goal from Cole Guttman last night. Whenever the Blackhawks begin moving forwards out, Guttman might be at/near the top of the list of players to get a call-up. The Blackhawks really like how he plays the game and he’s producing. Rockford lost last night and Alex Vlasic is going to miss six weeks because of a fractured fibula, but their season is shaping up to be right in line with the hopes of the front office.
- Even though he didn’t make Canada’s roster for the WJC, Ryan Greene has opened a lot of eyes with his terrific play at Boston University and in Canada’s camp. Scott Powers and Scott Wheeler wrote about Greene’s play at BU this season and how his stock is soaring right now.
- A big part of Greene’s emergence has been his confidence that he can influence every element of the game. Based on this story, last year he had the ability to do it but didn’t believe he could do it all the time. Now, he’s a nightly impact player and averaging a point-per-game as a true freshman at a premier program.
“We, actually, as a staff did notice like right away, even basically like the start of training camp or practices, he stood out pretty quickly,” Boston coach Jay Pandolfo said. “He was really calm with the puck. You could tell he had confidence with it. I mean, there’s obviously still little things you need to work on defensively and stuff like that, but with the puck, he was really good. And you know, he’s kind of earned more and more ice time because of the way he’s played. So I don’t know if we expected him to be this good this soon, but he’s been really good for us.”
- The Blackhawks selected Greene with the 57th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft — the one they received from Minnesota in the Marc-André Fleury trade. Keep that one in your back pocket for future consideration…
- Finally, good thoughts here on free agency and why waiting is a crap shoot. It’s not every day that a Jon Lester or Marian Hossa is available (and your front office spends enough money to get them).