Listen, I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious. I wrote a blog the other day before the first of two games, recapping what happened leading up to it. The Blackhawks went on to win both, and Lankinen got his first shutout so this is what I do until it stops working. I’m doing recaps the afternoon before a game until further notice.
The Hawks rolled into Hockeytown (I disagree with calling Detroit this, because Detroit is not good at anything, including hockey) after splitting with the Jackets this past weekend, and came out of the gates absolutely buzzing, putting up 2 goals in their first 6 shots of the game. Unfortunately they couldn’t escape the first frame unscathed, as D-Town was able to put one away late in the first. Then came the most boring 2nd period of hockey maybe ever, seriously. There was one save that was good enough to make the highlight videos. Full-blown snoozer. Early on in the 3rd, the Wings closed the gap and were able to fend off the Hawks until the buzzer went. As has become the Hawks new favourite thing to do this season, off we went to OT. In the waning seconds the Hawks collected the puck in their own end and a made no mistake heading the other way to put down the Red Wings for the third straight time this season.
After the night off Wednesday, the rematch Thursday night saw much of the same, with the Hawks clearly the better team on the ice. The game was a little less exciting, with only one non-empty net goal for the entire game, but let me tell you was it ever delicious. I won’t say the game was boring because both goalies were at the top of their respective games, Lankinen riding a streak of consistently reliable performances, bringing the Hawks to second place in the NHL… just like everyone was able to accurately predict coming into the year.
Thursday was also Michael Jordan’s birthday, so naturally Chicago took the day off work, closed businesses and did nothing but binge The Last Dance (as they’re absolutely entitled to do). Naturally, because we live in a simulation, of course Kurashev wearing #23 would pull off easily the best goal scored by a Blackhawk this year. In case you’re wondering, yes, the internet did reference the fact that Kurashev wears 23.
Also, off topic but not really off topic, these Jordan 1-themed skates. I love them, but also I don’t? It’s the most polarizing image I’ve ever seen and I’m requesting any and all assistance in letting me know how I feel about them.
Not to be lost in the shuffle of Kurashev’s beauty goal, Kevin Lankinen notched his first career shutout, stopping all 29 Detroit shots, while also picking up his 2nd assist of the season (putting him in 34th for rookie scoring this year), as well as in the rookie lead for wins with 7, and firmly among the league’s best goaltenders statistically, rolling with a very respectable 2.29 GAA and .931 SV% (tops among rookie goaltenders in the NHL in both). The young core of this Hawks squad is very good. Suter and Kurashev are 1 + 2 in the rookie goal scoring race and 1 + 3 in scoring overall. The Blackhawks have 6 players in the Top 50 rookie scorers, one of whom is their starting netminder. The future is SCALDING hot for the Windy City, especially if Captain Serious and Kirby Dach can find their way back to the lineup soon.
The Hawks are back at it again tonight for a solo matchup with the Hurricanes, as tomorrow’s episode of the back-to-back has been postponed in place of a Tampa-Carolina matchup originally scheduled for March 28. It makes sense, as the Blackhawks have played a handful more games than most teams so far, having been affected by the constantly shifting schedule very little, if at all. This would give Tampa a chance to make up for missing Saturday’s matchup with the Dallas Stars, who are having just a hell of a time down there with the weather and what it’s caused. On top of everything going on with Covid-19, Dallas didn’t deserve to have to deal with another mess like this but here we are. But the season rolls on, somehow managing to keep playing games and working our way through it, so I’m willing to accept the changes as they come. Everyone raise a glass and pour one out for the NHL Schedule Shufflers, because they’re the heroes we both need AND deserve.