The Chicago Blackhawks are back in town after a disappointing six-game road trip, where they only earned two of a possible 12 points. While the team looks to get back on track with some wins, this seems like a perfect time to catch up on the latest news and rumors. Today we discuss updates on Kirby Dach, Dominik Kubalik, prospect MacKenzie Entwistle, and Patrick Kane.
Dach’s Return is Near
As we all know, Blackhawks’ fans were extremely excited about 2019 third overall NHL draft pick Kirby Dach after he made huge strides in his rookie 2019-20 campaign. Unfortunately, he fractured his right wrist during a fluke hit at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, and was sidelined before the tournament even started. After successful surgery, the star center was given a timeline of 4-5 months until his return, meaning most of the Blackhawks’ 2020-21 season.
Therefore, there was a lot of buzz around Dach seemingly being a full participant in practice this past Monday. It was the Blackhawks’ first practice at home since their road trip, so the media was able to see the 20-year-old skating firsthand.
But Dach actually first partook in an optional practice on March 8, right before the Blackhawks left for their road trip. It was then that head coach Jeremy Colliton announced the center would travel with the rest of the team, and what they were hoping to accomplish with that decision.
Whenever we can we’ll get him with the group, whether that’s the taxi squad or the full group. Obviously it’s another step for him to be joining the team in some way, but we got a ways to go still.
So although it was great to see Dach with the team on Monday, he could have been doing this much longer. But before we get too excited, Colliton tempered the expectations after practice. He claimed there’s still no timeline for his return, but he has been cleared for some contact.
According to Dach’s original timeline, he wasn’t expected to be available until April 29. But based on this new information, it could be much sooner than that. This could be good news for the Blackhawks and any chances at a playoff push.
Kubalik Hits 100 Games
Lost in the shuffle of the road trip and lots of losing, second year forward Dominik Kubalik played in his 100th game this past Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Kubalik played his 100th NHL game Saturday.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 23, 2021
"I remember when we were in Prague and I did the interview before like, 'I'm going to play my first game.' Now it's already 100. Time really flies… There are so many things about the first year I’ll remember for the rest of my life."
Kubalik had an excellent first year, indeed. The Czech native spent the beginning of his career playing in Europe, so he was 24 years old in his NHL rookie season. But in that first campaign he accumulated 30 goals and 16 assists for 46 points, earning him a nomination for the Calder Trophy for best rookie.
His second season hasn’t been too shabby either. Kubalik currently has 11 goals, 15 assists and 26 points with the Blackhawks in 33 games this season. This is good for third place on the team in all three categories. He notched his latest goal Tuesday night, and is currently on a six-game point streak.
Career-wise, Kubalik boasts 41 goals, 31 assists and 72 points in his first 101 games. He’s a mainstay on the Blackhawks’ second line and second power play unit, and is considered one of the star players on the team. He signed a two-year extension with the Blackhawks in Oct. 2020, so here’s to the next 100 games and many, many more goals!
Entwistle Makes NHL Debut
Moving on, forward MacKenzie Entwistle made his NHL debut Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers. Entwistle became the seventh rookie to play his first game with the Blackhawks this season, proving the organization is sticking to the plan of developing their youth.
Updated #NHL debut tracker for the #Blackhawks during 2021 season:— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) March 23, 2021
Game 1: Ian Mitchell, Pius Suter
Game 2: Philipp Kurashev
Game 4: Kevin Lankinen
Game 10: Reese Johnson
Game 26: Wyatt Kalynuk
Game 33: MacKenzie Entwistle
Entwistle has accumulated 31 points in 68 games in the last two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs. In his first tilt with the Blackhawks, the 21-year-old slotted onto the fourth line with Philipp Kurashev and Carl Soderberg. He actually had a shot on goal on his first shift, although that was probably the highlight of his night. He finished the evening with two shots on net and three hits in 6:03 minutes of ice time.
Finally, Patrick Kane was honored Tuesday night at the United Center to commemorate his 1000th NHL game with a mini-ceremony.
Per Patrick Kane’s wish, we won’t 𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘭𝘺 celebrate until we can share the moment with a packed house of #Blackhawks fans.— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 24, 2021
But since it's our first home game since his 1,000th NHL game on March 9, we recognized Kaner's achievement with his family.#1Kane pic.twitter.com/BJ4hx022uM
Kane’s actual 1000 games happened on March 9 on the road against the Dallas Stars. This ended up being a disappointing 6-1 loss. It’s appropriate that Kane’s homecoming and celebration ended with a 3-2 feel-good win. He earned two assists in the effort, which gave him his 1066th point of his career, to gain fourth place all-time among U.S. born players. Congrats to Kane, and to many more milestones in an illustrious career.
While Entwistle might not be a big part of the Blackhawks immediate plans, Dach, Kubalik and Kane certainly appear to be. Let’s see what the future holds for these four players, and the rest of this young group!
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. Let’s put it this way; she’s probably reading and writing about hockey instead of cooking and cleaning. Shh, don’t tell her husband!
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.