The Chicago Blackhawks have had a tough go of things lately, losing 11 of their last 16 games since the beginning of March. It’s been the most difficult stretch of their season, and they’re currently working hard to get back on track and add some wins. Every player is trying to do their part individually and as a group. One player who’s stood out to me recently is forward Dylan Strome. The Blackhawks had three games last week, and Strome made significant contributions in all of them. Here’s why he’s earned our Star of the Week honor.
New Dad Luck
Strome missed last Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators, but it was for a very good reason. He and his girlfriend Tayler celebrated the birth of their daughter, Weslie Margaret Strome.
No rest for the weary; the 24-year-old was back and ready to go on Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. There’s nothing quite like the motivation from becoming a new daddy. After a deadlocked opening frame, Strome got the scoring started in the second period after a turnover and chip in feed from Kirby Dach. Mattias Janmark was the other member of this line, and he made sure to grab the puck for Strome to have as a keepsake for his new daughter.
Although he’s most comfortable at center, Strome has recently been allotted to the right wing by head coach Jeremy Colliton. But his linemate Dach struggles with faceoffs, so in this game Colliton leaned on Strome to take a number of the draws. He handled the responsibility admirably, winning seven-of-eight draws for an 88% success rate. Dach lost all eight of his faceoff attempts.
Strome’s buddy Alex DeBrincat added a power play goal in the third period of this game, and the Blackhawks skated away with a 2-1 victory. All in all, Strome recorded two shots on goal and finished the night with a plus-1 rating in 14:17 minutes of ice time in the win.
100 Points as a Blackhawk
The Blackhawks weren’t as lucky on Thursday, losing 4-3 to the Canes in a heartbreaking contest. They came back from trailing 2-0 and then 3-2. Guess who scored the game-tying goal in the third period? You guessed it; Strome deflected a shot from Connor Murphy to give the Blackhawks a chance to win. Turns out it was also his 100th point as a Blackhawk.
Now, Strome hasn’t always been the best at faceoffs, with a 47.2% career success rate. But he won a very commendable 10-of-18 draws for 56% on this night. Whether he stays on the wing of moves back to center, it appears Colliton has some options regarding Strome’s usage in the lineup.
Clicking With the 3rd Line
In an effort to get a spark for the team, Colliton shook up the lines once again for the tilt with the Predators Saturday afternoon. Dach was moved up to the top line with DeBrincat and Patrick Kane, while Strome and Janmark were centered by Pius Suter on the third line.
Although the Blackhawks didn’t win the game, they generated a season high 41 shots on goal. The new-look third line generated 13 scoring chances in 12 minutes of ice time together (from ‘Blackhawks’ loss to Predators increases pressure on Jeremy Colliton to find solutions soon’, The Chicago Sun-Times – 4/3/21). Suter and Janmark each obtained three shots on goal, while Strome was credited with five (tied with DeBrincat and Calvin de Haan for the team lead). It appears the Janmark/Suter/Strome trio is a good combination. We shall see if they can further capitalize on their success moving forward.
The Big Picture
Strome got off to a decent start at the beginning of the season, with three goals and three assists in 10 games in January. But he struggled in February, with only one goal and an assist in nine contests. He then missed 11 games with concussion issues in early March. The Ontario native notched a big goal upon his return on Mar. 18, but cooled off after that until a resurgence this past week. With 17 games left in the season, let’s hope these past three solid games by Strome are a harbinger of good things to come for the young forward.
After all, he’s a Girl Daddy now. Luck is on his side.