The Blackhawks are in Philly tonight. Yay. There will undoubtedly be some off-ice drama for the Flyers to deal with tonight (which we discussed yesterday in bullets), while the Blackhawks are looking to build off an impressive comeback win.
- The first NHL moment I want to take a second to celebrate this morning is Steven Stamkos scoring his 500th goal last night. For a guy whose dealt with as many significant injuries as he has over the past few years, he’s bounced back to being a really good player for Tampa. I’ve had a few opportunities to interview Stamkos over the years and he’s one of the brightest, most down-to-earth players I’ve engaged with, so I was happy for him last night. Of course I thought the Blackhawks would have seen him score twice a couple weeks ago, but here it is.
- Stamkos joins Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby as the only active players to have 500 career regular-season goals. Evgeni Malkin (460) is the next in line. Patrick Kane is at 438.
- Speaking of veterans who have seen some stuff, Blackhawks defenseman Jack Johnson has been through a lot during his playing career. He’s been a nice addition to the Hawks’ back end this season, and Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times spoke with Connor Murphy about how he’s learning from the senior member of the group this season.
- One of the attributes I really like about the culture the Blackhawks have this season, in spite of the losses, is one of openness and learning. Head coach Luke Richardson has said that there are times he won’t want to disrupt the conversations that are happening in the room because the leaders are talking things through with the younger players. Max Domi, Jason Dickinson, Reese Johnson and Sam Lafferty have all talked about things they’ve learned from Jonathan Toews in the faceoff circle. This collaborative atmosphere is a great place for young players to come in and learn while being supported in what they do best.
- This comment from Murphy in the Pope story is what I’m talking about:
“Jack is a really strong guy, and he knows how to hold forwards up in the corners,” Murphy said. “And then he has a lot of skill to be able to shake off forecheckers with his puck play and passing. It’s something I’ve wanted to improve with.
“I’ve been working on some stuff with coaches. And then even in games, [I’m focusing on] having a mindset of winning the battle, then going from a stronger ‘battle feeling’ to poise with the puck and being able to find guys and move my feet to make options.”
- Defenseman Jarred Tinordi, who’s had a rough year of his own with multiple injuries, spoke with the media after practice yesterday. Richardson said he’s still working his way back and might be close to returning around the All-Star Game (early February).
- The NCHC is having a fun vote on line for their all-decade team, and I strongly encourage Blackhawks fans to participate. There are four former Blackhawks (or at least draft picks/prospects) on the lists — Henrik Borgstrom, Drake Cagguila, Anthony Louis and Luc Snuggerud — and current Blackhawks defenseman Ian Mitchell. Get those ballots working, folks!
- We’ve had a couple unfortunate (maybe fortunate?) moments with hot mics lately in the NHL. Earlier this week, Nick Foligno was caught asking a fairly important question of an official (maybe use headphones/ear buds for this one).
- Last night, the mic on the Vancouver Canucks broadcast caught a “relaxed” moment in the booth. Does anything better summarize the state of affairs in that organization right now than this?
- Finally, the Bulls play in Paris this afternoon. But one Detroit player might not be available for the Pistons. Oops!