After a few unexpected wins against the Bruins and Predators, it looks like we are back to our regular schedule programming. The Hawks wrapped up their 5-game road trip yesterday after noon against the Minnesota Wild, and despite keeping the game close for the entire game, in vintage Hawks fashion, they gave up the lead with less than a minute and fifteen seconds left in the game to drop this one 3-1. Again, like the story most of this season has been, Stalock did everything in his power to help his team win, stopping 22 of the 24 shots he faced and finishing this one with a.917 SV%. Stalock continues to be the biggest surprise for me this season and has shown some solid play this year when he has been able to stay healthy. After so much uncertainty for him after being out of the league for an extended period of time due to complications from COVID, it's a good comeback story, and you have to imagine he has earned himself another NHL contract this season.
The Hawks long goal in this one came from rookie Lukas Reichel, who was able to take advantage of a 2 on 1 and with just a well-placed shot beat Gustavsson early in the 2nd period. That is his fourth goal this season, and he now has eight points in 16 games. I have enjoyed watching him play, and I am still very high on this kid going forward. I do think one of the big things KD needs to address this offseason is that if Reichel is going to be a full-time NHLer next season, he'll need to get a good veteran to play on a line with him, almost mentor him, and really help get him adjusted to NHL life. I was hoping this would have been the case this year with Kane, but keeping him in Rockford was arguably the best move, and we are starting to see the results of it now.
Next Up: Vancouver Canucks (33-34-5)
Players to watch
Elias Pettersson 33 goals, 58 assists, 91 points
JT Miller: 29 goals, 43 assists, 72 points
Quinn Hughes 5 goals 63 assists, 68 points
Colin Delia (8-4-2): 3.34 GAA:.879 SV%
The Canucks have been an interesting story this season as they started off the season with some absolute terrible luck, setting the record for most losses after having multi-goal leads. However, as of late, they have been playing some unbelievable hockey, going 8-2 in their last 10 games and currently winning two in a row. With just 10 games left for them and 14 points out of a wild card spot, the playoffs are all but unlikely for them, but this is still going to be a game they are going to want to win. With their play as of late, they are not going to just roll over and die; they are going to do their best to show they can be a team to compete next season. For the Tank for Bedard fan club, I hope they continue their hot streak of games tonight at the United Center. For me, as the story has been all season, I just want to watch a good competitive game and for this team to make Vancouver earn the two points and not just gift them.
Not only is the battle for playoff positioning heating up, but the battle for draft lottery positioning is too. This has turned into a four-team race for the worst record in the league with just a few weeks left in the season. The Ducks are at 56 points with 9 games to go, which puts them at the 4th-best odds to win the lottery. The Hawks currently have the 3rd-best odds to land that dream pick with 54 points and just 10 games to go. The Blue Jackets are sitting second best with 53 points and also only have 10 games to play, while the Sharks are now the favorites to win the lottery as they also have 53 points with just nine games to go.
NCAA Frozen Four
The men's tournament is in full swing, and while I know the Hawks have a few players who are playing, there are just two that I really want to keep an eye on. The first being last year's 13th overall pick, Frank Nazar. Sitting out most of the season due to injury, the freshman has played fairly well getting back into the swing of things. In 11 games, he had 2 goals and 5 assists for the Wolverines and also put up a goal and an assist in Michigan's blowout first-round game. Nazar and Michigan play again today at 5:30 p.m. central time with a spot in the Frozen Four on the line.
The other player I am watching is goalie Drew Commesso of Boston University. Still seen as a potential option in net for future Hawks, Commesso is having himself a nice tournament so far. He has helped Boston punch their ticket to the Frozen Four by allowing just two goals in the first two rounds of this tournament. Currently sitting on a.945 SV% Commesso has been poised and cool in the tournament setting, and the 20-year-old former 2nd round pick could be ready to make the jump to the professional ranks soon. His next game will be April 6th against the University of Minnesota.
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