Best team in the league, eh?
The Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the Boston Bruins 6-3 at the United Center on Tuesday night, dethroning a team that entered this game on a pace not far from the best regular season in NHL history.
But Chicago was undaunted and scored the only goal of the first period on this solo effort from MacKenzie Entwistle:
Mackenzie Entwistle scores against the Boston Bruins to make it 1-0 #CHIvsBOS #Blackhawks #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/jxv8gzWcA2— nopClips (@nopClips) March 15, 2023
In the middle of the second period, Blackhawks starting goalie Petr Mrazek exited the game a few minutes after being hit in the helmet with a one-timer:
This is when Petr Mrazek left the game. He took a couple quick shots and then notified the official before exiting. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/ugObZfiivy— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) March 15, 2023
Chicago was still up 1-0 when Mrazek departed but Alex Stalock was greeted with a flurry of Boston chances before Hampus Lindholm tied it at one with this point shot through a maze of bodies:
Hampus Lindholm scores against the Chicago Blackhawks to make it 1-1 #CHIvsBOS #Blackhawks #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/exjQMyEBp9— nopClips (@nopClips) March 15, 2023
Joey Anderson restored the Blackhawks lead 94 seconds later after some grinder-esque work by Boris Katchouk knocked a puck free to Anderson just to the side of the net:
Joey Anderson scores against the Boston Bruins to make it 2-1 #CHIvsBOS #Blackhawks #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/t4m5Rb93Dq— nopClips (@nopClips) March 15, 2023
With a dozen seconds left in the middle period, though, Trent Frederic tied the game at two:
Trent Frederic scores against the Chicago Blackhawks to make it 2-2 #CHIvsBOS #Blackhawks #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/6K2tXoWB6v— nopClips (@nopClips) March 15, 2023
The third period is when this game went wholly off the rails.
Early on, Pavel Zacha put Boston ahead 3-2 when this shot bounced off of Jarred Tinordi’s skate and into the Chicago net:
Pavel Zacha scores against the Chicago Blackhawks to make it 3-2 #CHIvsBOS #Blackhawks #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/ybCKqmAs1E— nopClips (@nopClips) March 15, 2023
But the Blackhawks would not go away quietly. A mad scramble unfolded in front of the Boston net not long after Zacha’s goal, and the puck ultimately ended up on the stick of Taylor Raddysh, who continued his scoring streak:
Taylor Raddysh jumps on a loose puck and scores his 4th goal in 4 games and 18th of the season. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/iqMYrkphsW— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) March 15, 2023
And then ... well, what happened here defies most capacities for explanation, so just take a look yourself at this Boris Katchouk goal that put the Hawks ahead 4-3:
Boris Katchouk scores a mini highlight-reel goal for his 3rd point of the night. Against Boston. Unreal. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/4JHEwCOL3g— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) March 15, 2023
For about a minute, the Bruins thought they’d tied the game on this snipe from Bertuzzi until video review correctly overturned it:
Tyler Bertuzzi's shot was originally ruled a goal but it has been overturned after video review. What a crazy third period. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/gqR0x6tpyJ— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) March 15, 2023
Later in the third, Raddysh provided the dagger with this power-play goal after Ian Mitchell danced around with the puck in the offensive zone and moved the puck to Tyler Johnson, who then found a wide-open Raddysh:
Taylor Raddysh scores a power-play goal against the Boston Bruins to make it 5-3 #CHIvsBOS #Blackhawks #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/5RFBEOUEvH— nopClips (@nopClips) March 15, 2023
Raddysh added an empty-netter to complete the scoring and complete the first hat trick of his NHL career:
Taylor Raddysh scores against the Boston Bruins to make it 6-3 #CHIvsBOS #Blackhawks #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/0Fdoz2HJHm— nopClips (@nopClips) March 15, 2023
Notes — or maybe just one really big note
- So, that was unexpected.
Yes, this season is about the ultimate plan of finishing in last place so that the Blackhawks have the best odds at drafting Connor Bedard No. 1 overall this June. And no, beating the best team in the league does not help that ultimate plan.
But I’d be lying if that wasn’t one of the more enjoyable nights of watching the Blackhawks since ... does anyone really know? Sound off in the comments — seriously. Drawing a total blank here.
Aside from this result offering a life raft in an otherwise endless sea of misery, it’s also worth noting the players who were the biggest contributors to this stunning win. Raddysh had a hat trick and he’s just 25 years old. Katchouk had a three-point night and won’t turn 25 until this summer. Ian Mitchell had a pair of assists and he turned 24 two months ago. Joey Anderson had two points and is also 24. While none of those players are likely to be foundational pieces for the future, they could absolutely still be part of this franchise in a few seasons when this team is doing more than toiling at/near the bottom of the league standings.
And, at some point, this team is going to have to win. Yes, there are plenty of statistical categories which are conducive to hockey teams winning games more often than not which should not be ignored and will not be ignored in this space. HOWEVA, I’ll also scream ‘til my lungs explode that there is something to be said for the intangible side of the winning process, some incalculable aura that winning teams possess and losing teams do not which is only rewarded through the experience of finishing with more points on the scoreboard than the other team. While all of these close games and competitive periods have been nice, there’s something to be said for getting over that hurdle and actually winning a damn game against a team instead of just “competing” with that team. And doing it against that team is an added bonus.
If the Hawks go out on Thursday night against the Predators and lay an egg, then much of this can be written off as an anomaly. But this team has been hanging in most games for a while now despite the depletion of the roster and now it actually got over the hump and knocked off as sizeable of an opponent as it’ll face this season. If those consistent performances continue to pile up, then it will offer more and more confidence that the guy behind the bench is constructing something legitimate here, which will only become more and more formidable as the talent in the room increases as the seasons progress.
Oh, one more thing: this is all supposed to be fun, and that was fun as hell. Tanking be damned.
#NHL GameScore Impact Card for Chicago Blackhawks on 2023-03-14:#Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/bJsLcEPLv6— HockeyStatCards (@hockeystatcards) March 15, 2023
- Taylor Raddysh (CHI) — hat trick
- Boris Katchouk (CHI) — 1 goal, 2 assists
- Joey Anderson (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist
The Blackhawks are on the road for the next five games, starting with Thursday’s game in Tennessee against the Nashville Predators.