More Tkachuk Heroics, Benn Suspended, Bedard's High Expectations, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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More Tkachuk Heroics, Benn Suspended, Bedard’s High Expectations, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks, NHL

Congratulations to the Florida Panthers for winning the Eastern Conference championship last night. Let’s not take anything away from the performance of the Carolina Hurricanes. This was as close as a four-game series could be. Carolina lost four games by one goal each, two in overtime and the finale with four seconds left in regulation. Absolutely heart-breaking. But the Panthers are for real, they’re in it and they’re going to be trouble for Vegas or Dallas (let’s be honest: Vegas). A special shoutout to Blackhawks legends Anthony Duclair and Gustav Forsling for making it to the Final. And to the big time game-winner himself, Matthew Tkachuk, for becoming the first player in his family to make the Cup Final.

  • This legitimately blew my mind. The team that won the Presidents Trophy with the league’s best record last year made the enormous trade to bring in Matthew Tkachuk last summer and, for most of the regular season, people were mocking their GM, Bill Zito, for saying they believed this would be a better “playoff team” this year. Well… he’s right. But it wasn’t an easy path to the postseason by any means.
  • Jaccob Slavin said after the game he was okay and believed this hit from Sam Bennett was legal (it was; I agree). But this was a scary moment early in the game that changed a lot for Carolina. Slavin is arguably the best defensive defenseman in the entire NHL and he obviously did not return the game.
  • A Western Conference champion could be crowned tonight in Dallas. The Vegas Golden Knights take their 3-0 series lead into a game that will undoubtedly be as heated at Game 3, but without the Stars’ captain available. We’ll see if the visitors can celebrate on Dallas’ ice.
  • After the Game 3 debacle, two Stars forwards heard from the Dept. of Player Safety. Former Blackhawk Max Domi was fined $5,000 for slashing Mark Stone.
  • And Jamie Benn, Dallas’ captain, was suspended for Game 4 (and 5 if it gets there) for his ridiculously dangerous attack of Stone earlier in the game.
  • On Wednesday, NBCSN Chicago asked if Connor Bedard can join some exclusive company as a point-per-game player as a rookie in the NHL. That’s a big ask; they point out that only five players have accomplished that mark in the last 27 seasons. What do you think?
  • The NHL named the three finalists for the league’s GM of the Year award on Wednesday. Not many big surprises here: Jim Nill of the Stars, Bill Zito of the Panthers and Don Sweeney of the record-setting (but first-round eliminated) Bruins are your finalists.
  • Mark Lazerus of The Athletic hasn’t been shy about his feelings about tanking (he hates it), but even he noted that Kyle Davidson has stuck to his plan and, thus far — with a little luck in the lottery — he’s done a pretty remarkable job of executing it. Whether the Blackhawks finished last or third-to-last (as they did), they were going to need the lottery to give them some fortune. What Davidson has done since taking over is pretty impressive, and it’s how to accelerate a rebuild plan.
  • The Buffalo Sabres somewhat quietly announced they have re-signed captain Kyle Okposo to a one-year, $2.5 million deal for next season. Nice deal for both sides.
  • This situation is a mess, but thankfully the Cubs have already done the right thing and broken their ties to the player.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab