As the Chicago Blackhawks look to ride the high from their shootout victory that forced the Vegas Golden Knights out of a playoff spot, they can end their 2021-22 schedule with a three-game winning streak. Even with little left to play for at this point in the season, concluding it with optimism is certainly a step in the right direction.
In today’s edition of Blackhawks News & Rumours, the team’s ability to squeeze some success out of an otherwise underwhelming year shines above all else.
Johnson Finally Provides Impact for Blackhawks
Tyler Johnson has had a less than stellar start to his tenure with the Blackhawks. Mostly due to being sidelined with injury. Yet, the reality remains that his lack of an impact — producing at less than a 0.25 points per game pace — is far from what was expected by both sides when he arrived.
As an accomplished veteran, having played an influential role on the Tampa Bay Lightning throughout the first nine years of his career and picking up back-to-back Stanley Cups along the way, Johnson is certainly capable of more. Signed for $5 million per season through 2023-24, Chicago has to hope he starts to earn his keep sooner than later.
“Tyler Johnson adds a large amount of skill and depth to our offense. His versatility across the lineup, two-way play and championship experience throughout his career make our lineup stronger. We look forward to watching the immediate impact he will have on our team.”
Perhaps they’ll take Johnson’s recent comments into consideration when they decide how to deploy him — and his teammates — next season.
Despite the failures felt throughout the franchise in 2021-22, including Johnson’s inability to help in the way all had hoped he could, he was able to conclude the campaign with some positive momentum. In fact, Johnson made sure to make his play more meaningful by scoring the shootout winner that ended Vegas’ chances at making it into the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Kane Still Feared Among NHLPA Peers
At the conclusion of every season, NHL players are polled across a variety of topics to give fans a sense of who they respect most as opponents. 2021-22 was Patrick Kane‘s 15th season in the league, but he’s still clearly capable of scaring those that are forced to face him.
Unsurprisingly, Kane was recognized for his stick-handling and passing. Having shaped his career around these very traits, it’s fitting that Kane is still finding ways to perform at such a high level in each regard.
When it came to comparing stick-handlers, Kane was among some of the league’s best. Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov, Johnny Gaudreau, and Auston Matthews all rounded out that list. However, with 57.3 percent of the votes, Kane was the undisputed winner in this race. Rightfully so, given his ability to hit the highlight reel nightly.
As far as passing, Kane’s 66 assists weren’t enough to see him lead this particular list as he placed second to Leon Draisaitl. Fair, since he’s not even in the top five for that stat throughout 2021-22. Yet, the fact that the 33-year-old tied his career-high in that regard and is still producing at such a rate certainly justifies the recognition.
Happy Birthday, Captain Toews!
It may have been a less than remarkable comeback campaign for Jonathan Toews, having only accumulated 37 points through 70 contests, but that doesn’t mean fans can’t find a reason to celebrate Chicago’s long-time captain.
First off, Toews continued to prove his prowess at the dot by averaging a faceoff win percentage of 59.0 through 2021-22. Not only does that mark lead the team, but it’s among his highest since he broke into the league in 2007-08. Clearly, he’s still more than capable of managing the task assigned to him.
Regardless of whether or not Chicago’s roster has earned the right to celebrate any on-ice achievements this year, their lives outside of the rink can still provide ample reason to. And birthdays are no exception.
Happy 34th Birthday, Jonathan! Here’s to a blank canvas of an offseason, on which you can start to paint whatever you wish to see for your Blackhawks throughout the 2022-23 campaign.
Freelance thinker, paying too much attention to digital aesthetic. Oxford comma enthusiast. Spider-Man supporter. Sports fan, with two favourite hockey teams. If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs ever meet in the Stanley Cup Final, you can find me wherever they’re playing that night.