Bedard Race Tightens, Michigan’s Analytics, Huge Prospect Production, and Other Blackhawks Bullets
The Blackhawks play tonight, but there are a couple games of interest in the NCAA tournament as well. It’s an exciting weekend filled with hockey for folks who aren’t obsessing over what’s left of their hoops brackets. And let me tell ya… the Big Ten came to play in the hockey tournament a heck of a lot better than they did on the hardwood.
- I feel like I should lead with the college games because they were amazing, but that would be me burying maybe the most important note from last night. The Columbus Blue Jackets won a game! And… they dropped out of the top spot in the Bad for Bedard Sweepstakes because of it. San Jose now owns the worst point percentage in the league. Things are getting tighter in the lottery standings, folks.
- Ohio State beat Harvard soundly in their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon. How bad? The final was 8-1 and Harvard scored the ninth goal of the game, at which point their coaches put in their backup senior goaltender for the final few minutes of his collegiate career. Blackhawks prospect center Jake Wise had a big day with four assists in the win. Here’s apple number four for him on the afternoon:
- Anything you can do, Michigan can do better? After the Buckeyes won 8-1 and Penn State authored the largest shutout in tournament history (8-0), the Wolverines came out and beat Colgate 11-1! Frank Nazar scored a goal and added an assist in the blowout. Michigan scored an all-time tournament record seven goals in the second period alone.
- Also I must admit that I love it when I write about a player and he shows up. Gavin Brindley might be a player the Blackhawks consider with their second pick in the first round or with one of their picks in the second round if he slides that far. He, too, scored a goal and added an assist in the enormous offensive night for Michigan.
- The Blackhawks told us before the summer that they were heavily investing in building a new analytics system and structure in the organization. That’s been a work in progress throughout the season. As I’ve listened to University of Michigan interim head coach Brandon Naurato this season, he’s regularly mentioned their use of analytics. That caught my eye because a) the Blackhawks have a top prospect — Nazar — playing there, and b) the new Blackhawks front office clearly places high value on metrics. So the article below was a fascinating read.
“You’re building the plane as you fly it,” [UM director of analytics Anthony] Ciatti said. “… You can’t build in the future if you’re not winning hockey games now. We have to make sure we’re helping on a day-to-day basis with the information the staff needs while trying to build things in the background. … It was tough. The first half (of the season) was really, really busy.”
- Defenseman Slava Demin and Merrimack were dismantled by Quinnipiac last night, suffering a 3-0 shutout defeat. He became the second Blackhawks prospect to have his season end.
- Blackhawks prospects Drew Commesso, Ryan Greene and Boston University will face Cornell in a national quarterfinal at 3 PM CT. Dominic Basse will likely be on the bench after Jaxon Castor pitched a shutout for St. Cloud State in their win over Minnesota State on Thursday, but they’ll face top-seeded Minnesota/Canisius tonight at 5:30 PM CT. Both games are on ESPNU.
- The Blackhawks had a lot of great offense coming from their prospects on Friday night as well. Where do we begin? How about a Kevin Korchinski goal! He had two of them last night. He had two assists, too. Nolan Allan chipped in with a helper for Seattle as well.
- Earlier this week we talked about Jalen Luypen being back in the swing of things when we discussed the progress of the Blackhawks’ 2021 draft class. He scored three times for the hat trick last night, including a short-handed goal for this third of the night. Three late assists gave him a six-point night.
- Maybe we should just sit back and enjoy the continuing fire show from Gavin Hayes for Flint? His goal was an overtime game-winner! He also had two assists in the game.
- A story by Scott Powers at The Athletic on Friday afternoon raised some additional questions about the Blackhawks deciding to not wear Pride Night jerseys for warm-ups. The organization made the decision, citing safety concerns for players of Russian heritage. However, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Powers the league does not consider players or their families to be at risk because of their participation in these events.
“We take all risks seriously, and this one is no different,” Daly wrote in an email to The Athletic. “Having said that, we have no information that would suggest there is any material threat that would exist (in Russia or otherwise) related to a Russian player participating in a club’s Pride activities.”
- Powers also published a follow-up statement from the Blackhawks that he received after the story initially published:
“We are unaware of any direct, material threat on an individual currently. That being said, we understand that there is a more general threat toward certain players and believe we need to respond accordingly. We will not have any further comment on this matter at this time. We wish to reiterate that our overall Pride night will go on as planned, and we are excited for all of the activities and LGBTQIA+ community members who will be in the spotlight.”
- Later on Friday afternoon the Blackhawks released some more details about the engagement and entertainment that will be part of the team’s Pride Night.
- The NHL had to release a statement on another unfortunate incident on Friday. Andrew Barroway, a minority owner of the Arizona Coyotes and hedge fund manager, was arrested him at a downtown Aspen hotel on a felony strangulation charge relating to domestic violence. Here’s hoping he’s a FORMER minority owner in the near future.
- We’re now less than one week from the Cubs’ opening day and WHAT THE SWEET HECK IS THIS?
- Finally, I do love it when a team has a truckload of money to spend in free agency. The Bears have already improved significantly this summer and they still have a lot more to spend.