Stauber’s Big Night, Nazar’s Debut, Fun Prospect Goals (and a Griddy), and Other Blackhawks Bullets
Shoutout to Jaxson Stauber. The Blackhawks’ goaltender became the first netminder in franchise history to earn a win in his first three appearances. That’s pretty freakin’ cool. Even if it earned the Blackhawks a second point in a game many thought they “should” lose, he made the saves he needed to down the stretch and now his name is in the record books.
- With all due respect to the game that was played at the United Center, the biggest news of the night was the NCAA debut of Frank Nazar III for the University of Michigan. Nazar, the 13th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, has been out since the summer because of a lower body injury but he returned in a heated rivalry game against Michigan State that included Adam Fantilli getting the showers early after he wanted the smoke from the entire MSU roster during the second period. Michigan won the game 4-2.
- Nazar saw some time on the power play and during 4-on-4 action. He finished the night without a shot on net and the winner of two of six faceoffs. His wheels looked good; the speed was there. But there was some obvious rust in his first game action in months. It was great seeing him on the ice!
- “Oooh we’re both playing in the Super Bowl we’re the best brothers in sports!” Yeah, well Seth Jones scored Chicago’s first goal on Friday night and his brother, Caleb, scored the OT GWG. According to the NHL, it had been almost six full calendar years since a pair of brothers scored in the same game. I probably would have guessed the last duo to do it was the Sedins, and that was back in 2017. Take THAT, Kelce brother!
- If you were hoping for some Blackhawks skaters to have a good night in front of a packed house of scouts from other teams, they did just that last night. Sam Lafferty had two assists and won seven of 13 faceoffs. Jake McCabe was physical all night and had some good scoring chances. Max Domi showed some speed and creativity and won eight of 14 faceoffs.
- And Andreas Athanasiou had three points (one goal, two assists) and was flying up and down the ice. When you look at his box score provided by Ben Pope last night on the Twitters, he played arguably his best game with the Blackhawks (though his head coach thought he’s had a few really strong games). It was a good night for the trade value stock market, even if the Blackhawks took a small hit in the draft lottery race.
- Speaking of the lottery standings, here’s how the bottom of the NHL stacks up entering Saturday:
- The crowd last night was loud the entire game. Yeah, it was a Friday night with decent weather. The Blackhawks’ Black History Night celebration was fantastic from the pre-game activations in the United Center Atrium to the warm-up jerseys and performances during the game. For a Friday night two days before the Super Bowl with another bad team on the ice, more than 19,000 showing up was awesome.
- At least head coach Luke Richardson can keep a sense of humor about the insane trade buzz around his two future Hall of Famers right now. He was asked after the morning skate on Friday when he started having dialogue with the front office about either Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews getting traded.
- Kane brought his dad jokes with him to the post-morning skate scrum as well. Once he’s back in uniform I’m sure 19 will get the same level of questions… if he re-joins the team (as hoped) in Canada on the upcoming trip, it might be worse that just us Chicago folks.
- On the prospect front, the Blackhawks had some strong performances on Friday night. Kingston captain Paul Ludwinski scored the game-winning shootout goal last night. While that doesn’t count towards his official total, it was still a huge win for the Frontenacs. Want a celly? PAULIE’S GOT YOUR CELLY RIGHT HERE KIDS!
- Landon Slaggert scored twice for Notre Dame as the Irish upset Ohio State 2-1. Here’s his second goal of the night:
- Aidan Thompson also scored last night. He did it for Denver in the Pioneer’s dramatic win against one of their more heated rivals, North Dakota.
- I’ve never seen this one before, but I kinda like it. After Milwaukee Admirals goalie Yaroslav Askarov finished off a shootout win, he… dropped and benched the goal. You have to watch this!
- Finally, this was a tough week for Bulls fans — and writers. Say what you will about Kyle Davidson’s direction but he’s been decisive and has absolutely taken the Blackhawks in a direction. That’s better than just crossing your fingers and hoping status quo improves. Eli had some appropriately strong words for the Bulls’ lack of direction and purpose after the trade deadline quietly passed in Chicago.
College Championship Saturday, Prospect Points, Centers Adjusting, 4th Line Chaos, and Other Blackhawks Bullets
Anderson Replacing Lafferty, Welcome Wyatt, Binnington Banned, and Other St. Patrick’s Day Blackhawks Bullets