The sun has risen and set on another week of success for the Chicago Blackhawks, taking advantage of an extra two days of rest over the weekend. After Sunday’s matchup against the Hurricanes was put on the season’s back-burner as the NHL scrambles to line-up the games played among NHL teams, the Blackhawks got the opportunity to lick some wounds and head into Columbus well rested and looking to continue on the OT win in their last matchup.
On Tuesday night the Hawks and Jackets kicked off game number one of the week, and from puck-drop to the final buzzer, this one got hot early and stayed hot. The Hawks struck first on the extra-man, continuing their recipe of success on the special teams, shortly before a costly turnover by Max Domi saw rookie goal-scoring leader Pius Suter in on a 2-on-0 with an even more deadly Patrick Kane. Honestly if you’re a goaltender at this point your best plan is to try to tackle one of them… which Korpisalo failed to do and Kane found the back of the cage to take an early two-goal lead.
The second period saw the Hawks lose, regain, lose and regain the lead again, as the squads would head into the 2nd break with the Blackhawks holding a 4-3 lead. Laine, seemingly fitting comfortably under the watchful eye of Torts scored twice in the frame while Blackhawks rookie Brandon Hagel ripped the first of his career, at this point meaning that it’s not even worth trying to count the number of first year guys finding twine for Chicago (it’s 5, not actually that hard to count). This team is going to be Carolina Reaper level spicy soon, right before we inevitably end up in cap hell again trying to pay them all, but to hell with the future, I’m loving it for now. Congrats to Hagel on yet another career cherry-popper for the Hawks.
Another wildly eventful period saw the teams travelling into OT tied at 5, where the excitement did not even pretend to slow down. Back and forth action for the first 4:50 of the 5:00 period saw the Blue Jackets coming down the ice with the remaining handful of seconds in the game and hopes that they could keep the extra point, but Kevin Lankinen with all of his 14 total games of NHL experience stared down the barrel of the Blue Jackets shooter, coming in all alone, and said “Nay nay”. OVERTIME SOLVES NOTHING, EVERYBODY TAKE A DRINK.
In the shootout, six shooters tried but only one prevailed, with Alex Debrincat scoring the only goal, and Lankinen absolutely slamming the door shut to send the Hawks into their day off with the extra point.
On Thursday, after an electric 11-goal game 48 hours prior, the fans were given the entire opposite end of the spectrum. A defensive matchup through and through, I credit the NHL YouTube intern for even being able to make a 9-minute highlight video. With only 26 total shots between the two teams through 40-minutes, it was not really a huge shocker that the scoreboard had a pair of zeroes up there. So fast forward to just shy of halfway into the 3rd frame, where yet again, Patrick Kane got the biscuit with time and space, and as he had done 398 times before, Kaner found the back of the net. The Hawks would find the empty net late in the 3rd, and they’d take the 4th of a possible 4 points back home to Chicago on the back of a 5-point week from Kane and the first shutout of the season from Malcolm Subban.
Looking onto the weekend, the Hawks are set to open up a five game home stretch against the basement-dwelling Red Wings where the phenom himself, Patrick Kane, will look to become the 10th American-born player and 100th all-time to hit the 400-goal plateau. It’s also worth noting, that for the second time in his career, Kane has begun a season with 30 points in the first 20 games. In his first season with such a start, he finished the season holding the Hart Trophy and the Art Ross at the end of the year. In a league now where Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are scoring all willy nilly (despite not being a legitimate contender in Edmonton), it seems unlikely that either will happen this season, but Kane has stood firmly at the forefront of a team “committed to a rebuild” and missing their captain, and cemented them as anything but a team that looks like they’re rebuilding. I for one am going to lean on my bias and say that Kane, at the very least, deserves to be in the Hart conversation, because right now he’s doing more with less. The Red Wings come into the Windy City still struggling and ranking outside the top 20 in the league in every normally measured team-metric beyond faceoff %. The Hawks, now sitting at 11-6-4, and 8-2-0 in their last ten, look to keep it rolling while #KaneWatch is in full effect as #88 chases 400. Whether you like it or not, Kane is not even close to past his prime yet, and I still, as a humble Canadian man, think there’s no way he’s not the best American-born player to ever lace ’em up. Puck drops at 8:00EST Saturday, and the Blackhawks will debut their Reverse Retros for their Sunday evening edition of the back-to-back.