The Blackhawks look for another win tonight against Dallas to add more distance in the standings between both the Stars and Blue Jackets while gaining ground on the Predators for 4th place in the Central Division.
Game 41, April 8:
Blackhawks vs Stars
Blackhawks, 18-17-5, 41 Pts (5th)
Stars, 13-14-10, 36 Pts (7th)
Blackhawks, 2.78 (16th)
Stars, 2.68 (20th)
Blackhawks, 3.05 (20th)
Stars, 2.54 (9th)
Blackhawks, 31-123, 25.2% (5th)
Stars, 28-114, 24.6% (6th)
Blackhawks, 83-112, 74.1% (28th)
Stars, 84-108, 77.8% (21st)
The shuttle between Chicago and Rockford is in a perpetual loop but this time only 6 of the 8 typical passengers were part of the routine swap. Brandon Pirri and Mikael Hakkarainen stayed with the Hogs.
While the influx of capital and resulting arena upgrades and income were the focus during the press conference, it will be interesting how the franchise's prospect development program in the AHL gets enhanced.
Pirri netted a natural hat trick to power the IceHogs to a 4-3 win which was the first victory over the interstate rival Wolves this season after losing 5 straight prior to last night.
1st Goal: Entwistle (1-0)
D.J. Busdeker pounced on a loose puck at the defensive blueline and chipped it to Evan Barratt who then moved it forward to spring MacKenzie Entwistle on a breakaway.
2nd Goal: Pirri (2-0)
After Lucas Carlsson's pass was tipped airborne, Josiah Slavin recovered a bouncing puck and fed it to Pirri who rifled a shot from the top of the right circle.
3rd Goal: Tomasino (2-1)
Tanner Jeannot intercepted Michael Krutil's errant pass, beat Carlsson along the wall, and spotted Philip Tomasino alone in the slot after Busdeker abandoned it to cover the pass.
4th Goal: Pirri (3-1)
Pirri hunted down the puck along the right boards in the offensive zone then started a give-and-go with Nicolas Beaudin and finished it with a one timer from the top of the right circle.
5th Goal: Pirri (4-1)
After Dylan McLaughlin and Andrei Altybarmakian won battles along the left boards, Altybarmakian backhanded a pass through traffic to Pirri who ripped a slapper from above the circles.
6th Goal: Jeannot (4-2)
The Wolves worked the puck from right to left on a rush up ice as Jeannot completed the sequence scoring from the slot as Barratt was bearing down on him from behind.
7th Goal: Bokk (4-3) PP
Again the Wolves moved the puck in the zone this time from left to right to left setting up Dominik Bokk for a one timer from the top of the left circle to pull within one.
Ian Mitchell pinched too frequently at both ends pulling him out of position. He ended up chasing the puck much of the game which caused him to stray from the net.
In contrast, Beaudin provided consistent net coverage while constantly checking his surroundings to watch for opponents sneaking in. His pinches were more timely, too.
Similarly, Carlsson was generally reliable in his end by keeping his play simple, i.e. take the body, transition the puck swiftly with his feet or through a breakout pass.
Isaak Phillips was dependable at both ends as well through a physical presence defensively and solid puck movement using his size, strength, and skating to advance the puck.
Heating up more and more, Slavin is now up to 4 points (2 goal and 2 assists) in 3 games so far as a pro. He's effective on the forecheck but could stand to leverage his size more.
Also getting hotter is Barratt and not just offensively. Last night he was aggressive in all zones and amped up his sandpaper going toe to toe all game with the Wolves top scorer Jeannot.
See you on the boards!