The Blackhawks had another lackluster performance Saturday, falling 3-1 to the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild opened the scoring with 3:34 left in the first period. Kevin Fiala carved his way through the zone then passed back to Frederick Gaudreau for a wrist shot goal from the upper slot.
The first period could have been much worse if not for the stellar play of Kevin Lankinen who stopped 16 of 17 shots just in the first 20 minutes.
There wasn’t another goal until the Blackhawks tied the game 1-1 at 8:27 in the third period. Patrick Kane got the puck to Seth Jones with a beautiful one-touch pass from across the offensive zone, and Jones went top corner. Credit also to Dylan Strome for his hustle to get this play started.
The Wild would get the go-ahead goal with 3:13 left in the period after a great passing play by ended with a slap shot from Ryan Hartman into a yawning cage. The net was wide open because Erik Gustafsson followed S. Jones too closely, lost his man completely on the play, and no one else found Hartman at all.
Jordan Green added an empty-net goal with just six seconds left for the Wild to defeat the Blackhawks 3-1.
- This was another one of those games where the Blackhawks looked pretty outclassed but hung in there because of their goalie. For the Blackhawks at 5-on-5, the game was their fourth-worst for shot attempt share (35.06 percent), third-worst for expected goals share (23.6 percent), third worst for scoring chance share (29.73 percent), and second-worst in terms of high danger chances (10 percent). Gross.
- And considering the Bruins game on Tuesday was also statistically one of the worst of the season, it feels like the Blackhawks have maybe just given up at this point in the season. I mean, I don’t blame them but it’s not fun to watch as a fan. Double gross.
- For the most part, I haven’t totally minded Gustafsson, but it’s so easy to see why no other team was interested in him prior to the season when he makes mistakes like the one on the game-winning goal. Yeah, the coverage was poor for most of the Blackhawks on that play, but when Gus makes a mistake, it always feels huge.
- Nice to see S. Jones break his 35-game goalless drought today. He’s only had two seasons in his career where he reached double digits in goals, but he had better chances this season than in his last three combined, in my opinion, so good to see that work rewarded. Jones also spoke post-game about his thought on the Blackhawks rebuild:
Seth Jones on whether he's buying in on the rebuild: "Yeah, I'm here. (Davidson) was open about it with us when he got hired as the GM here. It's going to be a process. But I'm here for it. Hopefully, I can make that process quicker in whatever I can do, on or off the ice."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) March 19, 2022
- Now for some “it’s really too early to tell” reviews of the newly acquired players... Taylor Raddysh had some jump, his forechecking was as excellent as advertised, and he did well in his time on the power play — including almost tipping his a goal in the first period. Boris Katchouk was a bit more inconsistent to start but did well in a predominantly defensive role — including some strong play in nearly two minutes on the penalty kill — and had at least one impressive chance of his own. Still don’t know if these two are long-term solutions for the Blackhawks during this rebuild, but they had good debuts on the individual level.
- In another debut, Alex Vlasic played only 6:10 the entire game, which isn’t unexpected since he’s never played in a professional game before and the Blackhawks were rolling with 7D, but I wish he’d gotten a bit more time. Like just lose Gus or cut off some minutes from Caleb Jones. The only thing that you could evaluate about him from this game is that he skates well and is very tall, especially compared to say Jared Spurgeon:
Alex Vlasic (#43, 6'6") vs Jared Spurgeon (#46, 5'9') haha pic.twitter.com/qlu6v46DnA— Wally (@WallyMaz18) March 19, 2022
- Lankinen has had a disappointing season so far, but tonight he was excellent, stopping 31 of 33 shots for a .939 save percentage. This included 11 high-danger chances, many of which came in clusters throughout the game.
- Last note that isn’t game-related but did come up today: apparently the Blackhawks were in discussion about sending Brandon Hagel and Marc-Andre Fleury to the Toronto Maple Leafs at one point. Reportedly didn’t happen because the Leafs didn’t want to give up so many futures — Matthew Knies is an A-level prospect in my opinion — so put into perspective what other packages for Hagel might have looked like.
Here’s a deal that didn’t happen. Chicago and Toronto discussed Hagel and Fleury to the Leafs for Mrazek, Matthew Knies and 1st round picks. Never reached a stage where Fleury was asked officially to waive. Toronto declined based on the futures involved…1/2— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 19, 2022
- Ryan Hartman (MIN) — GWG
- Jon Merrill (MIN) — 2 A
- Kevin Lankinen (CHI) — 31 saves on 33 shots, .939 save-percentage
The Blackhawks are back at the United Center Sunday night to face the Winnipeg Jets at 6:00 p.m.