Game 44: Hawks 1, Wings 4
After Duncan Keith opened the game's scoring, the Red Wings deposited 4 unanswered goals to defeat the Blackhawks. Not counting the empty netter, all other tallies by Detroit were due to unforced errors and poor play recognition.
The first goal resulted from a misplayed blocker save by Kevin Lankinen, the second resulted from Connor Murphy not monitoring the penalty box as the PP ended, and the third resulted from allowing the eventual goal scorer to pinch without hindrance.
Although the Hawks lost, the Predators fortunately did as well which allowed Chicago to stay within striking distance of Nashville being 4 points behind for the 4th seed in the Central Division with one game in hand.
The starting lineup with Nikita Zadorov and Ian Mitchell returning from being a healthy scratch and in AHL development, respectively:
And the starters for the opening shift:
1st Goal: Keith (1-0)
Alex DeBrincat carried the puck wide right into the zone, took a shot, corralled the rebound, and shot it again through the slot. The puck ended up with Keith who painted the top shelf with a wrister.
2nd Goal: Stecher (1-1)
Lankinen let in a goal any netminder would like to get back as he misplayed the puck off of his blocker and deflected Troy Stecher's long-range shot over and behind him into the cage.
3rd Goal: Vrana (1-2)
Gustav Lindstrom hit Jakub Vrana with a stretch pass as the Hawks power play ended. Simply poor recognition by Murphy to not know the time on the clock and keep tabs on Vrana leaving the penalty box.
4th Goal: Stecher (1-3)
Getting behind the defense, Stecher activated from the blueline down to the slot to receive a feed from Danny DeKeyser and stuff the puck into a wide open net. Keith also prevented Lankinen from making a play.
5th Goal: Rasmussen (1-4) EN
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Michael Rasmussen put the game away burying an empty netter in the remaining minute and a half of regulation.
The Red Wings amassed an impressive 24 shot blocks while the Blackhawks mustered only half a dozen. Those stymied shots by Detroit made a difference as Chicago had the edge on shot attempts by a margin of 18.
Despite a few mishaps here and there, Mitchell had a solid return to the Blackhawks lineup with his defensive play. Not vacating his assignments, he chased the puck less and maintained better positioning.
Known as a heavy-hitting defensive defenseman, Riley Stillman lived up to his reputation by using his physicality to separate opponents from the puck and throwing his body around more than in his Hawks debut.
Continuing to trend upward, Wyatt Kalynuk consistently gained inside positioning defensively while also being magnetized to the net as he habitually reset there. He led all Chicago D-men with 4 shots on goal.
At 6'3" and 215 pounds, Carson Gicewicz is a power forward who produced at around 0.50 PPG during 3 seasons at St. Lawrence University then a PPG player after transfering as a senior to UMass-Amherst.
Gicewicz is yet another NCAA free agent added to the Rockford mix along with Dylan McLaughlin, Chris Wilkie, Mitch Fossier, and Cam Morrison (he was at least drafted just not signed by the Avalanche).
While diamonds in the rough are always possible, the likelihood that Gicewicz becomes a viable prospect for the Blackhawks is low. Until proven otherwise, he is strictly minor league depth.
See you on the boards!