The Blackhawks swept the Blue Jackets with an overtime victory despite sloppy play up and down the ice. The Hawks won the season series 6-2 and kept pace with the Predators to stay 2 points out of 4th place.
Although the Hawks struggled with making accurate passes, maintaining control of the puck, avoiding turnovers, and clearing the zone, they were even with the Jackets on metrics for shooting and scoring chances.
The starting lineup included newcomers Brett Connolly and Riley Stillman with Nikita Zadorov being a healthy scratch:
And the starters for the opening shift:
1st Goal: Matteau (0-1)
After David Kampf couldn't corral his off-target pass, Stefan Matteau received a stretch pass from Seth Jones and got in behind Wyatt Kalynuk and Stillman to have a breakaway against Kevin Lankinen.
2nd Goal: Keith (1-1) PP
While on the power play, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Duncan Keith moved the puck around the top of the umbrella and gradually collapsed toward the net before Keith unloaded a slapper from dead center.
3rd Goal: Laine (1-2)
Vladislav Gavrikov worked the puck around the net and moved it up to Max Domi at the top of the right circle who then fed Patrik Laine at the top of the zone for a blistering one timer.
4th Goal: Kurashev (2-2)
Executing a double give-and-go, Kane knocked down an airborne puck to Philipp Kurashev who bumped it back for Kane to rush up ice to the left side before sliding it over to the right for Kurashev to bury.
5th Goal: Connolly (3-2)
Connolly outworked Jack Roslovic along the blueline near the left boards then worked his way to the middle of the zone with Roslovic all over him yet still got a shot off for his first as a Blackhawk.
6th Goal: Laine (3-3)
After Kirby Dach got ridden to the boards by Gavrikov, Laine picked up the loose puck and carried it end to end at full steam for the tally while beating Dach, Stillman, and Calvin de Haan along the way.
7th Goal: Hagel (4-3) OT
After a gaffe by Kalynuk and Dach earlier in the shift turning over the puck in their end, they redeemed themselves by setting up Brandon Hagel for the OT GWG which was his first non-garbage goal of the year.
After crosschecking Connor Murphy and breaking his own stick in the process, Domi went ballistic on Murphy in a one-sided fight. Big credit for Murphy to not fight back and instead induce a 4-minute power play.
Laine has struggled with the Jackets but has killed the Hawks. He potted 3 goals in this recent series and 6 goals and 2 assists in 6 games for the season versus Chicago (14 goals and 8 assists total).
Halfway through the 2nd was a good example of the Hawks (Dylan Strome) controlling the puck behind the net but looking for a pass out rather than just doing a wraparound or stuff attempt to generate a rebound.
After taking a puck to the face in the 1st, Adam Boqvist left the ice and didn't return to the game. Reports are that he has concussion symptoms. Let's hope it's short-term in protocol but long-term health is a priority.
To start the game, Stillman lacked awareness of where to be in his end doing a lot of puck watching and chasing all over the zone. As the game wore on, he settled down and played more steady and conservatively.
Like Carl Soderberg, Connolly has noticeable size on the ice that he uses on the forecheck and along the boards. Connolly's game is similar to Soderberg, too, but he's more agile and quick on his skates.
It was expected that Mattias Janmark would get moved for one pick in the 3rd round or later due to his offensive regression but he netted a pair with one being a 2nd thanks to the Sharks taking on 25% of his salary.
The 2022 draft is supposedly deeper than this year's so that 3rd rounder could potentially be 2nd round talent. By that same token, though, this year's 2nd rounder could potentially be 3rd round talent.
If the Hawks still have any interest in Janmark, they could pursue him in free agency this summer as long as the price is right. However, his disappearing act over the past few weeks makes that scenario less probable.
Along with Sean Farrell (Montreal), Luke Evangelista (Nashville), and Colby Ambrosio (Colorado), Ryder Rolston was on my list of 2020 hopefuls for Chicago's draft due to his high motor, compete level, and hockey IQ.
I was disappointed when the Avs picked him but the Hawks got him eventually similar to MacKenzie Entwistle who the Coyotes nabbed in 2017 a slot before they took Andrei Altybarmakian. Evan Barratt was taken that 3rd round, too.
Rolston may not be a top 6 forward at the NHL level like his dad but he projects to be an energetic 3rd liner with speed and shiftiness to generate offense. At Notre Dame, he's working on his play without the puck.
Josh Dickinson seems to be a throw in and may have a similar fate as Brad Morrison: picked up to help offload a contract (Olli Maatta) but is a career minor leaguer with little to no future with the Blackhawks.
Matthew Highmore arguably played his way out of a long-term spot with the Blackhawks which is somewhat surprising given his effectiveness on the 4th line last year with some spark and grit during the postseason.
On Adam Gaudette, here are a few tidbits to provide a glimpse of what the Hawks may be getting in him:
"He felt he wanted to play higher in the lineup than he was. When we talked to him, it was about improving his two-way game. Felt it was the right time for him to get a fresh start. It was just the right time for both parties to move on." (Canucks general manager Jim Benning on Sportsnet 560)
"Good trade for the Hawks here. Gaudette has offensive upside, but can’t be trusted defensively as center...Not your typical 3C, will need OZ starts. But he’s been playing more wing this year. Could be a long term move for him." (Jay Zawaski speaking to a source in Vancouver)
My initial take is that Gaudette ends up as a winger for the bottom 6 with capacity to take faceoffs or play center for games here and there if needed. Can put up points as a secondary scorer. Per scouting reports: relentless work ethic and heavy hitter.
Even though the trade was good in that the Hawks were able to upgrade from a 2021 5th rounder to a 2021 4th rounder, it was surprising to see Madison Bowey traded as he was expected to be exposed in the Seattle expansion draft.
Now, predictions have the Hawks exposing de Haan. Would it be a bad idea to do that and risk losing him to the Kraken? It at least gets his salary off the books but Bowman better have a plan to replace his experience on the blueline.
If de Haan is gone and Zadorov is re-signed, the veterans would be Keith, Murphy, and Zadorov complemented by Boqvist, Kalynuk, Ian Mitchell, and Nicolas Beaudin. Not a bad set of 7 in the rear assuming more growth by the youngsters next year.
This note about player movement eligibility between the NHL and AHL is from yesterday so the deadline elapsed when the TDL did as well.
The IceHogs and Wild square off this evening in Des Moines then return home for a Saturday tilt with the Wolves before a trio of games next week with these same combatants (once in Chicago and twice in Iowa again).
See you on the boards!