The Blackhawks stormed a comeback on Black Friday by beating the Blues after being down 0-2 through one period. Secondary scoring is starting to heat up with Jujhar Khaira notching a 4th-liner's garbage goal and Brandon Hagel picking up his 3rd goal in as many games.
Team defense is still far from perfect but doing enough to minimize high danger scoring chances. According to a recent article by Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times
, associate coach Marc Crawford is overseeing the defense and stressing a duo of lessons in practice.
One lesson is defending from the crease out by protecting the house first. The other lesson is defending with your feet by taking away the opponent's time and space to generate offense. Both lessons have been applied in spurts in games yet still lack consistency.
If the Hawks can continue to lean on the top players, amp up secondary scoring, receive reliable goaltending, and constantly institute these lessons of defense for a full 60 minutes, then the team will markedly improve even towards a possible playoff berth.
Blackhawks Game Summary
Hagel - Toews - Kane
DeBrincat - Dach - Kubalik
Kurashev - Borgstrom - Carpenter
Hardman - R Johnson - Khaira
de Haan - S Jones
McCabe - Murphy
Kalynuk - Gustafsson
Strome, C Jones
1st Goal (0-1): Buchnevich (Kyrou, Faulk)
2nd Goal (0-2): Barbashev (Thomas, Buchnevich) PP
3rd Goal (1-2): Khaira (Hardman, R Johnson)
4th Goal (2-2): Hagel (S Jones, Toews)
5th Goal (3-2): DeBrincat (Kane, S Jones) OT
SOG For/Against: 27/25
Faceoffs Won: 49%
* I thought the ugliness from the Jeremy Colliton era got purged from the system already but apparently not as the Blackhawks have given up an opening strike within the first few minutes for a consecutive game.
* The waving off of Jonathan Toews' supposed first goal of the season actually wasn't surprising as Patrick Kane did look offsides in real time when he breached the offensive zone.
* It would be nice if head coach Derek King stopped with the dressing of multiple 4th lines, i.e. no more than 3 of the following should dress for a game: Khaira, Ryan Carpenter, Mike Hardman, Reese Johnson, and MacKenzie Entwistle (when healthy again).
* There's enough talent to ice a 3rd line comprised of top 9 talent with any of the following: Dylan Strome, Henrik Borgstrom, Philipp Kurashev, Dominik Kubalik, Adam Gaudette (waivers withstanding), and Tyler Johnson (when healthy again).
* The Hawks were on the positive end of what happened negatively to them in the last game when the Flames scored on the next shift after Kirby Dach's fight; the Blues were hoping to rally around Brayden Schenn's fight to avenge the Jake McCabe hit on David Perron but the Hawks 4th line responded with Khaira's goal.
* Speaking of McCabe, he turned in another solid defensive effort (4 hits, 3 block, 3 takeaways in 20:22 TOI) plus answered the bell to fight Schenn.
* Cutting down on turnovers would help with sustaining offense; the Hawks amassed an abundance of giveaways with 14 on the afternoon.
* Everyone who took at least one faceoff won 50% of their draws or better except for Dach who won a paltry 22%.
Goal by Jujhar Khaira
Goal by Brandon Hagel
IceHogs Game Summary
Nylander - Reichel - Connolly
Altybarmakian - McLaughlin - Busdeker
Barratt - Slavin - Gicewicz
Pour - G Mitchell - Osipov
Galvas - Beaudin
Phillips - Regula
Stanton - I Mitchell
1st Goal (0-1): Tennyson (Luff, Farrance)
2nd Goal (0-2): McCarron (Richard, Farrance)
3rd Goal (1-2): Busdeker (Regula, Altybarmakian)
4th Goal (1-3): Luff (McLain, Glass) PP
5th Goal (1-4): Grimaldi (Schneider, Davies)
6th Goal (1-5): Olivier (Donovan) EN
7th Goal (2-5): I Mitchell (Stanton, Barratt)
SOG For/Against: 21/26
* The IceHogs mustered only 3 shots in the 1st period but ended the game with a grand total of only 5 less than the Admirals.
* Andrei Altybarmakian continued to show that he's a spirited little rascal who's willing to stick up for teammates even if everyone on the other team wants to simultaneously rip his head off; he also forces turnovers, doggedly pursues pucks, and makes space.
* Even when quiet on the scoresheet, Lukas Reichel and Dylan McLaughlin both display excellent hockey sense to adapt to swiftly developing game situations and execute appropriate plays quickly and smartly.
* After a strong training camp for the Blackhawks and a noticeable start to his first pro season in North America using his size and compete level, Jakub Pour has considerably cooled off and hasn't been much of an impact player.
* While Ian Mitchell is a fluid skater and does skate with the puck when he gets the chance, he really needs to improve his passing especially making short feeds rather than rely on long bombs that rarely ever connect.
* One thing to appreciate about Nicolas Beaudin is that he plays with an edge and is willing to tussle with the opposition; however, one thing holding him back is lack of strength in addition to generally defending the slot consistently.
In an interview yesterday, King outwardly stated that the reason why Gaudette is on waivers is to get him playing time as he's not getting into the lineup for the Blackhawks. The goal is for him to clear waivers and be a starter for the IceHogs until a recall is needed.
King did admit, though, that Gaudette likely hopes to get claimed by another NHL team that will give him a chance to play. This wouldn't be a big loss to the Hawks if he does. While he could make a decent living in Chicago, he wouldn't be a long-term impact player.
If there's another Chicago player who is frequently on the outside looking in, it's Strome. Earning $3M annually and being a former 3rd overall pick is most certainly reducing the option for the Hawks to send Strome through waivers like they are doing with Gaudette.
Strome was on the trade block earlier this season -- and perhaps still is -- so the Hawks shouldn't risk losing him for nothing despite his stock falling ever since his 2018-19 breakout season. So it wouldn't be a surprise if he finds a new home between now and the trade deadline.
See you on the boards!