We’re back! The Blackhawks Week That Was and Will Be returns for the 2022-23 season, to the delight of maybe three people. Here’s a reminder of the idea behind the madness that will follow below and every Monday (or Tuesday when there are Monday games).
What’s the point of all this?
Sports, yeah, but specifically being a sports fan — what’s the deal? Is it only about the victories? Does it only mean something if your team is either winning a championship in that moment or working towards one? Is everything else irrelevant and not worth your time?
That’s the existential crisis I’ve been wrestling with since the Blackhawks traded Alex DeBrincat on draft day, making it very clear that they were heading for the “bottoming out” portion of the rebuild process (no, we’re not using the “T” word in this corner of the internet, thank you very much). This crisis is exacerbated by a quick scan of the Blackhawks roster, which is mostly deprived of players who’ll be here for the long haul — it’s primarily stocked with veterans who are going to be shipped out in the next year or two for picks and/or prospects as the bottoming out portion of the plan continues.
So why should I care about the Blackhawks right now? Other than it being an obligation for this job, why should I even watch? What’s the point?
Three games into the season, I may have an answer.
Because it’s professional sports and sometimes weird, goofy shit is going to happen that’ll be fun enough to make you forget the current drudgery surrounding the team.
Case in point: Sam Lafferty scoring back-to-back shorthanded goals against the Sharks on Saturday night. There is no one on this planet who would’ve expected Lafferty to accomplish this feat — Lafferty almost certainly included. Here are a few of the reasons why this should not have happened:
- Lafferty had played 142 NHL games prior to that and had only scored 11 goals
- None of those goals were shorthanded
- Lafferty did not score in the final 15 games of the 2021-22 regular season
- Forget goals: Lafferty was averaging a shot on goal about every 10 minutes of shorthanded ice time last season.
- As a follow-up, Lafferty is a perfect 2-for-2 when he attempts a shorthanded shot on goal this season
Sam Lafferty is the first Blackhawk to score multiple shorthanded goals in one game since Rene Bourque on 2/28/08, also at Dallas, and just the 11th Hawk ever to do it.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) October 16, 2022
Remember Rene Bourque? Good times.
Was this a massive deal in the grand scheme of the Blackhawks’ present situation? Of course not! Lafferty’s still a career bottom-sixer who could get moved at the 2023 deadline or hang around for another season. Still up in the air.
But combine those two unexpected goals as part of a four-goal offensive explosion from the Blackhawks in that second period Saturday night, and it’s a moment with enough depth that you can dive in headfirst and require a decent push up from the bottom to come back to the surface. And that, my friends, is the point of all this right now. Being a sports fan means having moments which arrive and demand your full attention immediately, ones that make it as if the rest of the world ceases to exist — if only for a moment. Some last longer than others. Some are more memorable than others. We’re probably not going to have many of them in this Blackhawks season. But we’ve got one already. And that’s enough for now. At least, it better be — because we’re not going to get much else this season.
Oh, that reminds me: it’s time to update the ol’ Trade-o-Meter.
Lafferty for McDavid, straight up.
The Week That Was
The best thing that happened this night was Jack Johnson crashing the Avalanche team photo in Hawks’ gear. Great move on his part.
Terrified by the notion that so many games this season will feel like this one.
Save some goals for the rest of the season!
Open Your Eyes and Dream
Small sample size and all that, but Jonathan Toews looks good again, an observation that exists on internet spaces other than this one. Take any preseason concerns about the captain, combine them with the fact that the Hawks ended the 2021 preseason with a thorough 5-1 ass-kicking of the Minnesota Wild and remind yourself to never draw any firm conclusions from preseason hockey games.
But Toews has been one of the most apparent Blackhawks forwards in this first trio of games, with the No. 19 sweater whipping around the ice at a noticeable pace and serving as a general pain in the ass for opposing players with and without the puck. The sequence that led to Toews’ first goal started with the captain harassing a Sharks’ defender enough to prevent a clean San Jose breakout before a few more puck bounces saw Tyler Johnson spring Toews for a mini breakaway.
Also, there was something familiar about the move Toews went to on that goal:
I guess Kaapo Kahkonen didn’t have that move scouted from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs (and speakers up for a great Pat Foley call):
Maintaining that level of play for an 82-game season that feels like it’ll feature a painful amount of lowlights will be the obvious challenge for the 34-year-old Toews. At the moment, though, we’ll take this pleasant reminder of everything that made Toews so good in the early stages of his career and hope it hangs around for a while.
The Week That Will Be
Friday, Oct. 21 vs. Detroit Red Wings
Still don’t like the Red Wings being in a different division.
Sunday, Oct. 23 vs. Seattle Kraken
Spent the entire offseason juggling the idea of the Kraken being playoff contenders or lottery pick contenders. Still no idea.