Welcome to the January edition of Blackhawks Bytes, a series featuring quotes and comments from players, coaches, management, journalists and fans alike concerning everything Chicago Blackhawks. The purpose of this ongoing column is to capture a slice of the existing outlook, attitudes and culture surrounding the team throughout the 2021-22 season. Please join me as we have some fun with the everyday, albeit fascinating aspect of human nature; the power of words.
It’s been a tumultuous start to the new year for the Blackhawks. Since the calendar flipped to 2022, the team has laid an egg in two lopsided losses, lost another heartbreaker in overtime, fell flat to the worst team in the league, and then turned around to beat one of the best teams in the league just a few days later. There’s never a lack of interesting quotes and tidbits about any team, whether they’re mediocre or Stanley Cup favorites. Let’s get to some of the latest quotable quotes regarding the Blackhawks.
Blackhawks Babies on Board
A few of the players have babies on the brain, and that always sparks some uplifting conversation. Defenseman Jake McCabe and his wife Gaby recently welcomed their second child to the family, a son. When asked about how the happy parents were handling two kids instead of one, McCabe got a little creative with his answer.
Jake McCabe on trying to handle two kids now with his wife: “We’ve gone from zone coverage to man on man.” 😂 #Blackhawks— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) December 30, 2021
So there you have it. Apparently hockey players never stop thinking in hockey terms.
Meanwhile, Alex DeBrincat just announced he and his wife Lyndsey are also expecting a baby boy in May. Now, we all know the star forward is affectionately known as “The Cat”. I love the play-on-words Blackhawks’ content host Jenna Rose used when she recently interviewed DeBrincat.
We can’t wait for the new kitten to arrive! Oh, and there’s some conversation about hockey in the interview as well.
Dach to Blame?
Let’s move on to the Blackhawks’ contest versus the Colorado Avalanche this past Tuesday. After two previous disappointing outings, it was refreshing to see the Blackhawks show up against arguably one of the best teams in the league. Even after trailing 2-0 in the first period, they fought back and forced overtime. But alas, Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar put the Blackhawks’ winning aspirations to rest.
CALE MAKAR ARE YOU SERIOUS!! 😱 pic.twitter.com/N7sAJ0dM4O— NHL (@NHL) January 5, 2022
Sure, you could attempt to fault Kirby Dach for losing his man on the play. But perhaps we should just tip our hats to the incredible maneuver made by of Makar. The Athletic’s beat writer Mark Lazerus had an amusing comment on the subject.
Yeah, but there are maybe three or four guys in the league who wouldn’t have had their ankles broken by Makar on that play.
Blaming Dach for that goal is like blaming the trailer park for the tornado.
Just like Makar should be given credit where it’s due, you gotta hand it to Laz for coming up with this excellent metaphor!
Falling Prey to the Trap Game
When the Blackhawks faced the bottom-feeding Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, it was supposed to be that game where they could redeem themselves from a five-game losing streak. Instead, they made it six losses in a row.
While it’s easy to get motivated to compete against a Stanley Cup contender (the Avalanche), sometimes it’s harder to find that inner drive against a team that’s beneath you in the standings. After all, the Coyotes had only managed six wins in 31 games before they hosted Chicago.
The Blackhawks took for granted they could pull off a win, and it showed in a half-hearted effort at best. Captain Jonathan Toews gave this synopsis after the game,
Our start was pretty flat. In the second we got into penalty trouble again. Moments like that, we’re giving up one, two, three goals and we get ourselves in a hole.
Those are making the difference for us right now and obviously something we’ve got to nip in the bud and try to see when those lapses are coming.(From ‘Chicago Blackhawks hold a players-only meeting after losing their 6th straight, a 6-4 defeat to the NHL-worst Arizona Coyotes. Here are 5 takeaways from the game.’ The Chicago Tribune – 1/7/22)
The Blackhawks played well in spurts, especially at the beginning of the second period and then late in the third when they were chasing the game. But it just wasn’t enough. The loss prompted a player’s only closed-door meeting after the game. What was discussed? Toews further elaborated that the players have to hold each other accountable. They must “keep each other engaged on the bench and find ways to say the right thing and play with energy, especially when teams are coming back at us.”
Trouble is, as a player it’s hard to find that drive and energy on a consistent basis when your team isn’t very good, and the franchise doesn’t appear to have any real direction.
Can Toews and company find a way to bring their best on a more consistent basis?
The Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Blackhawks Saturday night, and it was the first time Marc-Andre Fleury returned to Las Vegas and his former arena since being traded to Chicago. If you recall, Fleury was cast aside by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that drafted him first overall in the 2003 NHL Draft. He spent 13 seasons with the Penguins and won three Stanley Cups with the team.
But the Penguins felt Fleury (and his cap hit) was expendable. He was claimed in the Expansion Draft by the Golden Knights in June of 2017 as one of their marquee players. “Flower” and his Cinderella team didn’t do too bad for themselves, making the playoffs in all four of their first seasons, including making it all the way to the Cup Final in their inaugural campaign.
Fleury’s former teammate Jonathan Marchessault had some high praise for the veteran netminder.
Jonathan Marchessault on Marc-Andre Fleury: I’m really looking forward to that moment after the video he’s going to get. He built this city. He built sports in this city. He’s the one who made us successful. I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it."#VegasBorn #Blackhawks— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) January 7, 2022
It must have been incredibly bittersweet to play against one’s former team in the raucous stadium you used to call home. It was obvious during the pre-game video tribute and after the game that Fleury was rather emotional about the whole thing. But you know what took some of the sting out of it? The Blackhawks came through with an excellent effort in front of the beloved goaltender who now plays for them. Said Dach before the game,
Kirby Dach: "We owe it to Flower to come out and play a full 60 and get him a win tonight. He’s been our backbone all year and there’s more than a handful of games that he’s won for us. So we need to step up."— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) January 8, 2022
The team did just that, playing a solid defensive game and contributing goals from a couple unlikely candidates in fourth-line forward Jujhar Khaira and defenseman Riley Stillman. Hey, whatever works. Fleury stopped 30-of-31 shots and the Blackhawks snapped their six-game losing skid with a 2-1 victory.
The start of 2022 has been tough for the Blackhawks so far. But there’s still plenty of time to right the ship and find some success. What other ups and downs will the Blackhawks endure as the rest of the season unfolds? Keep it here at The Hockey Writers for all the latest news, updates and quotable quotes as the roller coaster continues.
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Gail Kauchak has covered the Chicago Blackhawks as a content writer since 2014. She previously wrote for Fansided’s Blackhawk Up, and has been part of The Hockey Writer’s team since 2017. It’s not always easy to balance life’s responsibility’s with one’s passion, but Gail’s doing her best to make it happen. Quote to live by, “Follow your dreams, and good things will happen.” Wait, maybe it’s “Good things happen when you shoot the puck!” You get the idea.
Follow Gail for her unique commentary about this storied franchise. And be sure to catch her and the rest of the Blackhawks’ crew on their weekly Blackhawks Banter show, as well as follow her on Twitter.