Given that the Chicago Blackhawks have lost six in a row, eight of nine, and 12 of their last 14, there might not appear to be much for the club to celebrate these days. Fortunately for onlookers, all it takes is digging a little deeper to infuse some optimism into their narrative.
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This edition of Blackhawks News & Rumors highlights a milestone night in Chicago, a long-awaited return, and a call to represent Canada.
Ovechkin’s Milestone Night in Chicago
While it’s generally preferred that a milestone night involves the home team, any franchise hosting Alex Ovechkin‘s Washington Capitals has to accept the risk of being on the wrong side of such an occasion. With 780 goals heading into 2022-23, averaging over 44 per year throughout his career, it was only a matter of time before Ovechkin achieved yet another major accomplishment.
Goal No. 800 for Ovechkin was scored on Dec. 13, after he notched a hat trick against none other than the second-last place Blackhawks. If Chicago isn’t going to be celebrating any of its own success throughout the near future, the city might as well benefit from witnessing others do so while visiting.
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The fact is, as Ovechkin heads toward even greater feats, any rink he happens to stop into along the way has to welcome witnessing history. Fittingly, having entered the league shortly after Ovechkin began to dominate it, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were both quick to congratulate the Capital following his milestone evening.
“When we play on the ice we’re not friends, but as soon as the whistle stops, we respect each other,” Ovechkin said following a 7-3 win over Chicago. “What they’ve done for the league is incredible as well. To have that moment after the game, it means a lot.”
Rather than fixating on the ugly loss that was just handed to them, Kane and Toews made sure to show the hockey world that some moments are bigger than any individual defeat. Even if it’s an opponent who’s enjoying all the post-game applause.
Now only 95 away from bypassing Wayne Gretzky as the greatest scorer of all time, it seems that much more plausible that Ovechkin will take over that title. Perhaps, though, he’ll be courteous enough to ensure he’s nowhere near Chicago when he does.
Blackhawks Finally Get Johnson Back
Entering his second season with the Blackhawks, after accumulating only seven points through 26 contests in 2021-22, Tyler Johnson sounded like he had reached a new level of confidence in Chicago early on in 2022-23. One that was allowing him to get back to enjoying the game, which should have meant that his production would elevate accordingly.
After starting the season by setting a point-per-game pace through his first six contests, Johnson was sidelined with an ankle injury. 4-2-0 with Johnson in the lineup, Chicago then quickly saw their momentum shift once he was out as they then compiled a record of 3-13-4 throughout that span.
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Obviously, this team’s early success was unsustainable with or without Johnson. They are a rebuild, destined to lose far more than they win. Yet, the evidence suggests the Blackhawks are a more competitive roster when he’s part of it.
Although his return aligned with a loss, Johnson picked up another goal. Not only does that help him maintain his pace as a point-per-game player thus far in 2022-23, it means he’s already matched his season total from 2021-22. What follows will be some much-needed bonus production for the Blackhawks.
4 Prospects Representing Team Canada
While it’s intriguing to find out who will be representing every respective country at the 2023 World Junior Championship, especially for the NHL franchises that get to witness their talent take part, the anticipation is elevated when it comes to the annual favourites.
Four of Chicago’s prospects have made it onto Team Canada’s official roster for the tournament. Defensemen Nolan Allan, Ethan Del Mastro, and Kevin Korchinski will be joining forward Colton Dach in Canada’s colours.
Del Mastro helped Canada capture gold at the 2022 World Juniors, but it will be the first time for Allan, Korchinski, and Dach to compete in the prestigious competition.
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Regardless of how far this season has already seemingly slipped for the Blackhawks, having an opportunity to watch their youth succeed on the international stage offers the franchise a glimpse into a much more optimistic future.