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Me, I Want a Hula Hoop: Wild 4, Blackhawks 1

More of the same.

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

It’s all going according to The Plan™, apparently.

The Chicago Blackhawks held on to their spot at the bottom of the NHL standings with a 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Friday night in the Twin Cities.

The “pretending to be a good hockey team again until the games actually matter” Wild started the scoring with this Mats Zuccarello goal about five minutes into the game:

Minnesota added two more goals in the second to take a 3-0 lead. First, Kirill Kaprizov scored:

Then Zuccarello scored in the final minute of the frame, this time on the power play:

Zuccarello might’ve had a hat trick by the end of that period were it not for this crazy save by Petr Mrazek earlier in the second:

On the eve of their 1,000th game as teammates, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews teamed up for a power-play goal in the middle of the third period to make it a two-goal Chicago deficit:

The Blackhawks would get no closer, however, and Zuccarello completed his hat trick with this empty-net goal for the final tally of the evening:

And that’s that.

Notes

  • This was always going to be a tough draw because the Blackhawks played Thursday night at home and then had to fly to Minnesota for a Wild team that didn’t play on Wednesday night. And that’s about how it all worked out.
  • Mrazek had an insanely good save in this game and fared rather well overall, keeping the Blackhawks competitive in a game that seemed like it was going to be more one-sided. But the overall product Mrazek has put on the ice this season has been less than inspiring. It’s hard to envision any contender calling for his services at the trade deadline unless there’s a healthy rebound in the next few months. But at least the Hawks turned a second-round pick into a first to take on his contract, eh?
  • Those who were lamenting the Jack Johnson top-pairing defenseman era of Blackhawks hockey will be relieved to learn that it appears over — at least for now. Johnson had the lowest TOI among blue-liners at 16:28. Per Natural Stat Trick, Seth Jones’ most frequent D partner was Jake McCabe, and that duo was on the ice for 13:31 with positive results in every possession metric: 18-14 in shot attempts, 11-5 in shots on goal and 13-7 in scoring chances — good for a 69.80 percent share of expected goals. Probably worth keeping that duo together as the No. 1 pairing for a while, as it seems to be a perfect mix with Jones’ offense-oriented style and McCabe’s more defensive-minded approach.
  • One win in 15 games. We’re having fun, aren’t we folks?
  • It’ll be hilarious if (when?) the Blackhawks are able to get this whole thing back on the tracks in time to reclaim the crown of “postseason team that gets to send Minnesota’s irrelevant ass home” in April. Guess it’ll have to reside elsewhere for now.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Mats Zuccarello (MIN) — Hat trick, assist
  2. Kirill Kaprizov (MIN) — 1 goal, 2 assists
  3. Sam Steel (MIN) — 2 assists

What’s next

The Blackhawks are back at the United Center on Sunday night to host the New York Rangers at 6:30 p.m.