With the holiday season upon us, comes the reality of never really knowing which day of the week it is at any given time. Well, our Chicago Blackhawks writing team at The Hockey Writers is here to help. Blackhawks Banter airs every Monday night at 8:00 P.M. ET/7:00 P.M. CT. and watching us live is sure to set your schedule right.
My name is Shaun Filippelli, your host for this upcoming show. You’ll also see some familiar faces, as Gail Kauchak, Greg Boysen, and Brooke LoFurno join me. Here’s a sneak peek of what we’ll be discussing, but be sure to tune in for even more discussion, debate, and banter.
Nylander’s Knee: From Surgery to Recovery
Following knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Alexander Nylander is now expected to miss the next four to six months. Essentially, he’s likely out for the duration of the 2020-21 campaign. Regardless of any pessimism surrounding his on-ice play, we wish him nothing but the best in hopes of a full and speedy recovery.
Upon his return, with the potential for a fresh slate to his career, do you expect to see more, less, or about the same out of Nylander when he’s back in action?
I would expect to see more out of him. This season was already going to be a “prove it” year for him, which makes this injury news hard to hear. So I think this injury will only rejuvenate him to come back even stronger next season. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring when he is healthy again.
I want Nylander to be a high-quality NHL player. I was a big fan of his father’s and he seems like a good kid. Add the price the Blackhawks had to pay to get him, and he needs to be a top-six forward. However, based on what we have seen, I have no reason to think he will ever get there.
He is far too inconsistent of a player and just makes poor decisions on the ice. When the biggest determent to your game is between your ears, there is a major problem. This was a horrible trade from day one and it keeps getting worse.
That’s tough to say. This is a big blow to a career that has already encountered a lot of trouble. I’ve never had a lot of faith in Nylander. Yes, he has the skill, but he just doesn’t have the consistency.
I personally don’t think Nylander will be able to overcome this. Even without a season-ending injury, I just don’t think he has the intangibles it takes to become an elite hockey player in the NHL.
This type of injury is a tough one for any athlete, regardless of their play and production at the time. However, it’s no secret that Nylander hasn’t done much to impress throughout his first few years in the league, along with the 26 points he was able to accumulate in his first season with Chicago.
As tough of a road as there may be ahead for him, the silver lining for Nylander here is that he can treat it as a restart. If he’s able to come back even stronger and more prepared than he’s ever been, this can prove to be a pivotal point in his career for all the right reasons. I’ll stay optimistic and say we’ll see more out of him upon his return.
All-Time Blackhawks Goalies: Starter, Backup, Third String
With teams carrying a minimum of three goalies throughout the 2020-21 season, I wanted to have some fun with creating our own all-time dream trio for the Blackhawks. Over 85 netminders have played at least one game for the franchise. This isn’t about just picking their best, but being strategic with who is placed where and why.
Select one netminder, past or present, to slot into each of the following roles and justify your choices:
Starter: Tony Esposito. Because there is no one better than Tony O, in my opinion. Three Vezina trophies, most shutout victories in Hawks history, the list goes on.
Backup: Corey Crawford. Because of his amazing career with the Blackhawks. Most playoff victories in Hawks history – enough said. Having him behind Esposito would surely get you multiple Stanley Cup victories.
Third-string: Robin Lehner. Going to stick with my youth picks with Lehner because he proved to be reliable behind Crawford.
Starter: Glenn Hall. How do you not start with “Mr. Goalie”? If you have Hall, you may not need two other goaltenders considering he once played in every minute of 502 straight games, a record that will never be broken.
Backup: Dominik Hasek. When Hall needs a breather, throw in “The Dominator” and not miss a beat. With two rock-solid Hall of Famers in net, you are taken care of between the pipes.
Third-string: Marty Turco. This has nothing to do with his play, but more of his personality. He was always good for a joke or a prank at someone else’s expense. Since he isn’t going to sniff the ice behind Hall and Hasek, you might as well have somebody on the team who can keep you laughing.
Starter/Backup: Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. This tandem was extremely impressive in the 2012-13 season when they jointly won the Jennings Trophy for goaltenders with the fewest goals allowed during the regular season. Crawford went 19-5-5 in this season with a 1.94 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. Emery’s record was 17-1-0, also with a 1.94 GAA, and a .922 SV%.
This comes with a special shout out to Crawford for winning two Stanley Cups and continuing to remain elite despite battling concussion issues the past few seasons. And to Emery for fighting back from what was thought to be career-ending right hip surgery in 2010. It took incredible strength and determination to rehab from this, much less play hockey at the highest level again. Prayers to this troubled yet highly successful man, who tragically passed away in July of 2018.
Third-string: Scott Darling. This Lemont, IL native struggled with alcoholism and social anxiety throughout his career. He had to hit rock bottom before eventually building himself back up. We all know that culminated with his 2015 playoff performance against the Nashville Predators when Crawford was struggling. Without Darling, who knows if the Blackhawks could have won that series and eventually gone on to win the Cup that season.
Starter: Tony Esposito. It’s hard to argue with starting the goalie who has the most familiarity in Chicago’s crease, still sitting atop their all-time games played list with 873. Add in that Esposito is also first in wins, shutouts, and even points, and he’s the obvious choice here.
Backup: Corey Crawford. Despite being one of the more underrated goalies of his generation, Crawford helped this franchise reach remarkable heights. His 52 playoff wins alone, along with capturing two Stanley Cups in a three-year span, is enough to earn a spot in their top two.
Third-string: Ed Belfour. Belfour epitomized what it meant to represent the Blackhawks. From the start of his unforgettable rookie campaign, his aggression, battle, and passion were unparalleled. Having his presence around, even from the press box, would only energize this lineup.
Central Division: New Teams, New Rivals
With the divisions and schedules now set for the upcoming season, we know that the Blackhawks will be seeing a lot more of the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, and Tampa Bay Lightning. While they already anticipate facing some familiar foes more than they’re used to, this also gives teams a chance to build new rivalries along the way.
Which of their less obvious rivals do you see turning into a newly found enemy of the Blackhawks, as the season unfolds?
Watch Monday for More
As we get ready to make our way on to your screens live this upcoming Monday, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow our Facebook Page to stay up to date the whole way through. In the meantime, get caught up on all we talked about during Episode 7 of Blackhawks Banter, last week:
Freelance thinker, creator, and writer. Oxford comma enthusiast. Spider-Man supporter. Hockey fan, with two favourite teams. If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs ever meet in the Stanley Cup Final, you can find me wherever they’re playing that night.
Check out more of my work at mralwayswrite.com.