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Blackhawks Bits: Kalynuk recalled; Stillman placed on injured reserve

Stillman was injured during Sunday’s game and did not return.

Chicago Blackhawks v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Riley Stillman will be out for an extended period of time after suffering an injury to his left knee during Sunday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Wyatt Kalynuk, who’s yet to play with the Blackhawks this season after heading to Rockford following recovery from a training camp injury, has been recalled to replace Stillman.

Stillman was injured when Erik Gustafsson pushed Vancouver’s Tyler Motte onto the back of Stillman’s left leg:

In 12 games this season, Stillman has two assists while averaging 14:11 of ice time — a number that was likely affected by the 2:33 he played on Sunday night while suffering that above injury during the first period.

Kalynuk has played in four games with the IceHogs over the last few weeks, notching a goal and two assists. He was one of the breakthrough players during the 2021 season, playing in 21 games with four goals and five assists while averaging 16:16 of ice time.

Here’s one of the assists that Kalynuk had in Rockford on a nifty pass to Lukas Reichel after skating circles around the Chicago Wolves’ defense:

Exploring the long road back to a playoff spot

As a quick exercise for Monday, let’s see how just long of a road it’ll be for the Blackhawks to get back to a playoff spot after winning just once in their first 12 games.

Start by setting a points goal for the Blackhawks by going back to the last few seasons when the NHL actually played all 82 games — it’s been a while. We’re setting the bar as low as possible, so we’ll use the point total for the second wild card seed from each conference. In the 2018-19 season, those teams were the Blue Jackets with 98 points and the Avalanche with 90 points. In ‘17-18, it was the Devils with 97 and the Avalanche again with 95. Averaging those four numbers yields a result of 95, so that’ll be the target for this exercise.

After 12 games this season (aka the Jeremy Colliton games), Chicago had a record of 1-9-2 and a measly four points. To reach 95 points by the season’s end, the Blackhawks would’ve needed to rack up 91 points in 70 games — a pace of 106.6 points over an 82-game season.

With Derek King at the helm, though, the Blackhawks have won five of six and now own a 6-10-2 record with 14 points to their name. To reach that 95-point plateau now, Chicago needs 81 more points over the final 64 games — a pace of 103.8 points over an 82-game schedule.

[UPDATE] The numbers above were edited after SCH commenter schroederlaw correctly pointed out the mathematical errors.

If there’s one piece of optimism to offer, though, it’s an improved mindset among the team — at least in the eyes of coach Derek King:

For much of the Colliton era, that was a massive flaw with this team: whenever something went wrong, it never recovered. An injury to a key player, a goal overturned by review, an opposing goalie standing on his head: any obstacle like that proved to be too much for the team to overcome. But King’s suggested that mindset is melting away and a few performance lend credence to that, such as the team’s quality third period against Vancouver after being bombarded in the first two.

Still five months to go. But at least steps are being taken in the proper direction at the moment.