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Officially Eliminated, Toews Note, Game Day: Hawks vs Avs

March 20, 2023, 11:06 AM ET [154 Comments]
Zach Jarom
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Saturday night, the Hawks were officially eliminated from playoff contention as they dropped a close game to the Arizona Coyotes at Mullet Arena. Speaking of Mullet Arena, the NHL might want to consider just making that the official home for Gary Bettman's favorite team, as they have had amazing success there this season, with a record of 20-11-3. That is the 12th best home record in the NHL and is better than more than a few playoff teams, such as the Devils and the Kraken, to name a few. Anyway, back to the Hawks. While this game snapped the 2-game winning "streak" they were on, there were two things that stood out to me.

The first being the continued success of the Kharia, Anderson, and Katchouk lines. They have been playing some great hockey and are being rewarded for it. This fourth line was bumped up to the third line role, and we even saw them get this game going when Kharia had a nice tip in goal just 35 seconds into the game. Katchouk also got a nice boost for his play, which saw him get second power-play unit ice time and play this game with an eye on shooting, having registered five shots on eight attempts. I said it last week and I will say it again: my favorite part of the cup-winning teams was having scoring capability from all four lines. So watching this depth line just go out there each night and tear it up has been an absolute pleasure to watch, and let's hope it continues the rest of the season.

The second thing to stand out was the debut of Wyatt Kaiser. The young defender got his fair share of ice time in this one, finishing the game with 16:11 in total ice time, and while it wasn’t much, he even saw a few seconds of penalty kill time. It's going to be a little adjustment for the kid, and he will more than likely spend more time with the Ice Hogs next season, but to me, he looked good. He didn’t look too nervous out there, and I think with the right approach to his development, he could become a nice piece for this team as this rebuild continues. However, it is still too soon to tell what the future may hold for him and this team, but that’s ok; he is still only 20 years old. There is no need to rush. 

The Hawks now sit 30th in the league with 54 points, and coming up, they have the last three games of this 5-game road trip against some tough teams that are battling for playoff positioning or desperately trying to work their way into a playoff spot during this final stretch of the season.

First up tonight is the defending champions, the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are getting healthy and hot at the right time, as they are just 3 points out of the division lead and have two games in hand on both the Wild and Stars. I feel like this has been a theme all season, where I say this is a game that has to be circled on the calendar, but somehow the Hawks always seem to come up big in these situations. The last time these two teams met in January, the Hawks came out on top thanks to a huge performance from Mrazek in net. You have to think Colorado isn’t going to hand another loss to this team this late in the season and will do whatever it takes to extend their current 5-game winning streak as well.

Players to Watch
Nathan MacKinnon 30 goals, 58 assists, and 88 points
Mikko Rantanen  46 goals, 37 points, and 83 assists
Cale Makar had 16 goals, 45 assists, and 61 points.
Projected Starter
Alexandar Georgiev: 31-14-5, 2.58 GAA, 9.18 SV, 4 shutouts 

Jonathan Toews
On Friday, John Dietz of the Daily Herald put out a piece talking about the future of the captain. According to two sources, Toews is seriously considering retiring at the end of this season. Now, I am not going to go into much detail about Toews and his legacy to this team just yet (he has been my favorite player since Tony Amonte, so I want to give him his own piece), but I feel like rumors this big should be addressed. For me, him calling it a career is the smart move for him, his health, and his life after hockey. There isn’t anything more he has to prove in this game, and all that’s left is for him to get his call to the Hall of Fame and to see 19 up in the rafters of the UC. It just stinks that this is going to be another player from the Cup-winning teams who isn’t going to end their career the way they truly wanted to. Almost every single player has had to call it a career due to either injuries or health. At least Toews will get to call it a career as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, and if he makes his decision before the end of the year, he will be able to get the proper send-off from the UC crowd that the Captain truly deserves. Again, I will talk more about Toews once there are more answers about his future.
That’s all for now, puck drop is scheduled for 8pm Central Time.

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