We’ve figured out the Chicago Blackhawks problem this season: it’s having Patrick Kane in the lineup.
Playing without their star winger, the Blackhawks dispatched of the visiting Arizona Coyotes 2-0 at the United Center on Friday night, because professional hockey is a sport that does not make sense and never will.
The only shot of the game that went past a goalie and into the net came near the middle of the second period when this blast from Jake McCabe gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead:
Reese Johnson had a chance to double that advantage later in the second period but was not successful:
Chicago held on to that one-goal lead for most of the third period, allowing Tyler Johnson to put the game away with this insurance tally into an empty-net:
And that was enough to give the Blackhawks their first win of 2023 and just their third in win the last 24 games. Take a moment to savor it — because who the hell knows when we’ll get another one? — before we get to the notes below.
- This season has provided countless opportunities to be bitter and jaded and cynical about the state of the Blackhawks and professional sports in general but if there’s one storyline which can help chip away at those icy feelings, it’s the one involving Alex Stalock. He’s been through a hell of a lot in the last few seasons with injuries and then myocarditis — a COVID-19 complication that sidelined him for an entire season. But with Chicago, he’s basically usurped the No. 1 spot from Petr Mrazek and now has a shutout to his name. Games with Stalock in net are also at least 200 percent more entertaining simply because of his willingness to leave the crease to the play the puck.
Most goalies would freak out if the puck came back to them a second time in this situation.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) January 7, 2023
Stalock is completely unfazed. What a character. https://t.co/4HOkTg4iwh
Is he a long-term option? Of course not. But who gives a shit? He’s a pleasant story in a season without many of them. Might as well enjoy what we’ve got when we’ve got so little to enjoy.
- Speaking of things to enjoy: Lukas Reichel was noticeable in this game. With the Blackhawks putting a few players on injured reserve earlier this week, there should still be space for Reichel in the lineup even if Kane returns on Sunday. And if he can keep looking like he did in the clips below, the goals and assists should follow for him:
- This has nothing to do with what happened on the ice but I thoroughly enjoyed the smirk from McCabe as he said this to the media after the game:
Don’t know if the Blackhawks will ever experience legitimate success while McCabe is here but I’d enjoy hearing more of his postgame comments should that situation arise.
- The Blackhawks actually owned the possession battle in this game — crazy, right? But it’s true! During 5-on-5 play, Chicago had the advantage in shot attempts (51-40), shots on goal (28-23), scoring chances (25-18), high-danger chances (10-8), and expected goals (2.35-1.47, a 61.44 percent share). Just wanted to highlight all of these numbers because of how rare it’s actually happened. The Blackhawks shot attempts share (56.04 percent) was a season-high, while the expected goal share above was the second-best mark of the season.
- After the way the Blackhawks were embarrassed by two other very bad teams last weekend, it’s nice to see them actually compete against a similarly poor side and come away with a win.
- Alex Stalock (CHI) — 22 saves, shutout
- Jake McCabe (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 postgame media session smirk
- Seth Jones (CHI) — 1 assist, team-high 25:32 TOI
The Blackhawks host the Calgary Flames on Sunday night at the United Center for a 6 p.m. puck drop.