A week-long road trip north of the border will hopefully help the Chicago Blackhawks find that momentum they had going into the All-Star break. The Hawks need to refocus after a third-period collapse on Sunday night during the trip’s opener against the Winnipeg Jets, as their early lead became a 5-2 loss.
The night was not without its highlights, with captain Jonathan Toews picking up his 800th career point with a secondary assist on Dominik Kubalik’s goal just 15 seconds into the game. The goal was also Kubalik’s 22nd of the season, which leads NHL rookies.
Toews, Claude Giroux, Nicklas Backstrom and Phil Kessel, all players from the 2006 NHL Draft have now surpassed the 800-point mark.
Tuesday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers didn’t end any better as the Blackhawks suffered more frustration during a 5-3 loss to the Oilers, but for different reasons.
During the loss to the Jets, the Blackhawks jumped out front early and fell apart in the final period, but on Tuesday, the Oilers were ahead just 73 seconds into the game. The game was tied at two goals apiece after the first period, but Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton still called out his team after the game for being inconsistent in the first two periods:
“Too little, too late,” he said. “Very good third, desperation in our game and we had some chances … the first two periods were too much up and down. I think there were portions of the first 40 minutes where we were really good and looked like we might take control of things, but we just weren’t sharp all the time and they made us pay.”
The northern journey continues tonight in Vancouver to take on the Canucks. After a couple days off, they will take to the ice on Saturday in Calgary against the Flames before heading back to Winnipeg for a rematch with the Jets on Sunday to close out the road trip.
Wednesday, Feb. 12 at Canucks
It will be a tough mid-week test for the Blackhawks when they take on the Canucks. Sitting atop of the Pacific Division with a 31-21-5 record, the Canucks are coming off a 6-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Monday night. The week is being celebrated in Vancouver as “Sedin Week”, as brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin will have their numbers retired in a ceremony prior to Wednesday night’s game; expect the atmosphere to favor the home team.
The Blackhawks will need to find a solution to Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom, who boasts a 2.81 goals-against average and a 21-16-3 record. He was stellar in net against the Predators stopping 36 shots. On offense, Elias Pattersson paces the way with 57 points and 23 goals.
PREDICTION: Canucks 3, Blackhawks 2
Saturday, Feb. 15 at Flames
The week opened with a 6-2 win for the Flames against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. The win gave Calgary back-to-back wins after a three-game losing streak and, with a 29-22-6 record, now sit fourth in the Pacific.
The Flames offense is led by Matthew Tkachuk with 45 points and Elias Lindholm with 22 goals. The Blackhawks defense will need to be at the ready, as Calgary got goals from Tobias Rieder, Zac Rinaldo and Mark Jankowski, all fourth-liners, during their win against the Sharks.
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In net, the Flames are anchored by David Rittich with a 22-14-5 record and a 2.72 goals-against average.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks, 3, Flames 1
Sunday, Feb. 16 at Jets
The Jets are coming off a three-game winning streak after defeating the St. Louis Blues, Ottawa Senators, and the Blackhawks in the aforementioned disaster. The Jets have only allowed two goals in each of their last three games and will host the New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks before Sunday’s game.
Ranked fourth in the Central Division, the Jets are 29-23-5 this season, with a 14-12-3 record at home. They are led by Kyle Connor with 59 points and 28 goals. In net, the Jets lean on Connor Hellebuyck’s 2.67 goals-against average and 24-16-5 record.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Jets 2
Scott brings several years of local hockey coverage with the Kankakee Daily Journal to the Hockey Writers, along with coverage of NCAA Hockey, Softball, Basketball, and Soccer with HEROSports. He is also a regular contributor to FloSoftball and Coach & Athletic Director Magazine.