Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was about as angry as he’s been all season after the game last night. He’s one of the most respected leaders in the NHL for a reason, and he’s been captain long enough that he knows how to speak. At times, he speaks on behalf of the team to the fans. At other times, you can tell that he’s using the cameras and microphones of the media to speak directly to his teammates. Last night’s post game was the latter.
- Toews said they didn’t have it last night. He effectively said his teammates phoned it in and thought, because they had won three straight and two against pretty good teams in Calgary and Colorado, that they could find the “On” switch at some point. They didn’t. And Toews looked directly into each and every camera after the game last night and let everyone — media, fans, the organization’s employees and, yes, his teammates — know that the effort was unacceptable.
- Toews finished the night with the Blackhawks’ first goal and an assist on Taylor Raddysh’s goal with 3:10 left in the game. A veteran of his age and experience could have happily allowed the coach to give him some additional rest in the third period. Toews skated 6:13 in the final period and 18:05 in the game.
- Head coach Luke Richardson was in line with his captain’s comments. And I would fully expect a bag skate on Monday if I was on the roster. So hydrate and get some rest because it sounded like Richardson was going to put them through some work tomorrow after a scheduled day off.
- Just before last night’s game when the Blackhawks activated Patrick Kane off IR, goaltender Jaxson Stauber was sent back to Rockford. Which meant Alex Stalock was healthy enough to be the backup goaltender last night. Which was great news… before the game started.
- The bad news: Stalock was called upon 12 minutes into the first period with the Blackhawks already trailing by four. Not because Petr Mrazek was hurt, but because the Kraken had scored four goals on their first five shots. And Stalock then allowed the first shot he saw after the goalie change to go in, which led to head coach Luke Richardson to use his timeout to try to get the team in the right head space. Seattle’s first shot after the timeout went in and the game was effectively over. So yay for being healthy but last night was a complete tire fire.
- The biggest win thus far from general manager Kyle Davidson’s first free agent class has been Max Domi, who’s on pace to match/exceed his career best in goals and has been surprisingly excellent in the faceoff circle. He’s been an energy player and showed a lot of leadership that I’m not sure many fans in Chicago expected. Indeed, he’s been a terrific part of the team who chose Chicago because he wanted to play for Richardson. So I’m totally on board with what Mark Lazerus tweeted below. If you’re not blown away by the offer, keep Domi around for a while. He’s been terrific, and he gets it.
- That being said, at a $3 million price tag and playing at a 25-goal pace, someone might be willing to make the Blackhawks the right offer to get Domi before the deadline.
- That being said, Davidson could still bring back Domi as a UFA this summer. Double win?
- I think the best way to transition out of last night’s game, which put the Blackhawks back on the bottom of the NHL standings in point percentage, is to remember why we’re sitting through the struggles this season. His name is Connor Bedard. On Friday, NHL Central Scouting released their mid-term prospect rankings for the 2023 NHL Draft and, of course, Bedard is the No. 1 North American skater. But there’s a different name on top of the International Skater list.
- As a reminder, the Blackhawks have two picks in the first round (so far). So I took a look at some names that might be interesting considerations for the Blackhawks with their second pick in the first round and their selection early in the second round.
- Now let’s just get into this lovely little throw-in from Kane after the morning skate yesterday when all anyone wanted to talk about was Lukas Reichel getting demoted.
“Hopefully he’s a guy I can play with in the future.”
- Um… yeah! We would all love to see 88 and 27 on the same line at some point (would have loved to see it now to be honest). The fact Kane says he wants to play with Reichel in the future has so many layers to unpack, however, that we could get so far ahead of ourselves the weekend is over and we’re still doing mental gymnastics to make it work.
- Was Kane referring to later this season? Maybe. Does that mean he doesn’t want to be/won’t waive his NMC to be traded? Maybe. Does that mean Kane would be open to signing an extension to stay in Chicago beyond this year? Maybe. Could he still ask for a trade, leave town on March 2 and only come back wearing a road sweater in the future? Maybe. Is everything on the table because it’s the 15th of January? Absolutely.
- Yesterday, Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times provided a few updates on prospects with his primary focus being on defenseman Alex Vlasic. It sounds like the Blackhawks and IceHogs are giving Vlasic a lot of runway to experiment offensively and make mistakes. And, to his credit, Vlasic is taking advantage of the situation and learning a lot in the process. He isn’t going to turn into Cale Makar, but having increasing his confidence to participate in the offense can only help him make an impact at the next level.
‘‘[I] just try to use my skating a little bit more, try to beat guys one-on-one if I can,’’ Vlasic told Pope. ‘‘Obviously, that’s not really going to be my game [in the NHL]. But I’m just pushing my limits, testing things out here, because I want to grow as a player.
‘‘I want to learn what I’m capable of doing, and I’m only going to learn from making mistakes. I can’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s my mindset.’’
- Pope also provided notes that there’s a chance the Blackhawks sign college prospects Boston University goalie Drew Commesso and Notre Dame forwards Landon Slaggert and Ryder Rolston when their seasons come to a close. I applaud Pope for the caveat that looking at HockeyDB doesn’t tell the story when evaluating a prospect so, while Slaggert’s offensive numbers are down this season, there are factors that play into that (health) and the organization still likes him as a prospect (as do I).
- Can we talk about this play from Boston University freshman forward and Blackhawks prospect Ryan Greene (No. 9 in red)? Puck retrieval, speed to find space, vision to find a teammate on the doorstep and executes the pass for the assist. Good stuff here — another example of why a lot of people are loving Greene’s game this season.
- Finally, while I was watching the Blackhawks look like a rec league team in the first period and never come all the say back, Patrick was watching the Jacksonville Jaguars erase a 27-point halftime deficit — the third-biggest comeback in NHL playoff history. (And if you follow him on Twitter you know he added a lil’ something to his bank account in the process.)