Kurashev’s Inconsistencies, Zone Entry Issues, Prospects Show Out, and Other Blackhawks Bullets
The Blackhawks are in Edmonton tonight. Jonathan Toews missed the Blackhawks’ game in Calgary because of a non-COVID illness but was on the ice for the morning skate today. We’ll see if he’s good to go when the lineups are confirmed before puck drop tonight, but it would be good to see him back on the ice.
- Since it’s the 28th of the month, that means it’s time for us to remind you — and, hopefully, the fine people on the Hockey Hall of Fame’s selection committee — that Steve Larmer was one helluva player. His number should have been retired by the Blackhawks years ago and he should have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame decades ago. Today, because of the game on the calendar for the NHL roster, I looked back at the crazy playoff series and regular season battles between Chicago and Edmonton in the 1980s and early 90s.
- The Blackhawks’ offense has been wildly up-and-down this season, so it isn’t a surprise that one of the root causes of that volatility has been individual efforts being inconsistent. One of the young players we were raving about a week ago was Philipp Kurashev, but he’s been quiet in the games since what many felt was a breakout performance against Buffalo.
- As Ben Pope points out, the peaks are what make you believe in Kurashev but the valleys are why he’s stuck as a third-line guy more times than not.
The 23-year-old Swiss forward has 20 points in 47 games, which tied him for 247th in the NHL entering Friday. He’s on pace to finish with 35 points, which would set a career high — he had 16 in his 2020-21 rookie season and 21 last season — but wouldn’t earn him anything close to a big payday as a pending restricted free agent this summer.
- Pope also wrote about the issues the Blackhawks have had this season with zone entries against conservative defenses. This is a really good breakdown of the issues the Blackhawks have and how frustrating that can be when “four Hawks forwards have individual carry-in rates above the league average, per All Three Zones: Sam Lafferty (51.2%), Patrick Kane (56.8%), Andreas Athanasiou (65.8%) and Max Domi (70.0%). Athanasiou and Domi actually fall well within the league’s upper quartile in that regard.”
- I appreciate the concept that the issues started in 2017. But… Kane and Jonathan Toews are the only players on this roster who were here in 2017. Heck, the Hawks are on their third different head coach since 2017. If the entire roster is different and the coaches are all different… is it the fans’ fault? Because a few of us are still here from six years ago…
- Drew Commesso had a big night for Boston University that included some really good saves. He finished the night stopping 24 of 27 against rival Boston College as the BU offense carried the night. BU scored six unanswered goals after going down 1-0; Blackhawks forward prospect Ryan Greene was in the penalty box when BC scored their first game. Greene picked up an assist in the 6-3 win.
- In college action last night, the biggest attendance in the country was in Denver. I’m not fact-checking that, just assuming because Denver played Colorado College at the home of the Avalanche. Huge rivalry in an NHL rink — absolutely love it. And the Pioneers came out with a shutout win. Aidan Thompson had an assist on the Pioneers’ first goal of the night.
- This season has not gone as well as they had hoped for Minnesota-Duluth. But that can all change when we get into February and spoilers wreck postseason dreams. Last night, the Bulldogs upset St. Cloud State — the No. 1 team in the nation. Ben Steeves (an undrafted freshman) had a natural hat trick in the game and Blackhawks forward prospect Dominic James had an assist on all three goals.
- Michigan put it on Penn State last night, led by the Fantilli brothers. After the game, Adam Fantilli — the potential No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft — spoke about the Wolverines’ commitment on the defensive end of the ice.
- Not ideal news for the IceHogs this weekend. Forward Garrett Mitchell has surgery on left shoulder and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. And forward Buddy Robinson is expected to miss up to six weeks because of a right wrist fracture.
- Finally, a center involved in trade rumors? The Blackhawks have anywhere between 2-4 centers in trade rumors. And, now, the Bulls have two as well.
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