The Chicago Blackhawks’ playoff chances took another hit this week after they could only muster two points over three games. After splitting back-to-back home games with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Hawks lost on the road to, yet again, the Nashville Predators, a team that has owned them all season. Heading into Easter Sunday, the Blackhawks are sitting outside of the playoff mix by two points in fifth place in the Central Division. The Hawks’ have gone 5–10–1 since March 1—not nearly good enough if they want to make a playoff push.
Tuesday, March 30: Hawks escape to victory
On Tuesday, the Blackhawks were stylistically and statistically outplayed, getting outshot 32–16 by the Canes, but the big board dictated otherwise and the Hawks skated to a 2–1 victory.
New father Dylan Strome celebrated the birth of his daughter by opening the scoring 29 seconds into the second period. Kirby Dach notched his first point of the season, springing Strome on a 2-on-1 break. Strome took care of his opportunity and Chicago took a 1–0 lead. It was Strome’s third even-strength point in what has been an uninspiring season for him.
The Hawks doubled their money minutes later when Alex DeBrincat tallied his 19th marker of the season following a great steal from Patrick Kane.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 31, 2021
Carolina would make it 2–1 before the end of the frame, but from that point on, Kevin Lankinen shut the door. The rookie would end the game with 31 saves, sealing the win for the Blackhawks.
Thursday, April 1: Last-minute heartbreaker sinks Hawks
On Thursday, the Blackhawks would play a more complete game, only to suffer heartache with seconds to play. After falling behind 2–0 at the halfway point of the game, Dominik Kubalik would cut the lead in half, with rookie Wyatt Kalynuk notching his first career NHL assist on a beautiful stretch pass through the neutral zone to the sophomore winger.
In a back-and-forth third period, Brandon Hagel tied the game 2–2. After Warren Foegele’s second goal of the game reclaimed Carolina’s lead, Strome would notch his second goal in as many games moments later, deflecting a Connor Murphy shot to the back of the net to make it 3–3. In the game’s waning moments, Jesper Fast scored for the Canes with less than 30 seconds to go, stealing away the win.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 2, 2021
Saturday, April 3: Blackhawks unable to solve the Preds
On Saturday, the Hawks visited the Music City to take on the Nashville Predators. Though the visitors came out firing, they trailed 1–0 after the first period despite pumping 14 shots on the seemingly unsolvable Juuse Saros.
In the second period, with the Blackhawks’ power play in tatters, Adam Boqvist hauled down Colton Sissons on a breakaway. Sissons converted on the ensuing penalty shot to make it 2–0 for the Preds.
The Hawks failed to convert on a 5-on-3 power play early in the third period, and moments later, the Preds added another to make it 3–0. Chicago outshot the Preds 39–21, but Saros and the stingy Preds defense helped the home side skate to a 3–0 shutout win.
News and notes
Chicago General Manager Stan Bowman also had a busy week. On Tuesday, the Blackhawks announced the signing of unrestricted free agent and Boston College standout Mike Hardman to a two-year entry-level contract at $912,500 per year. Hardman was assigned to the taxi-squad shortly after. The 22-year-old registered 10 goals and 19 points for the Eagles in 2020–21 before inking the deal. Whether or not he will suit up for the Hawks or the Rockford IceHogs this season remains to be seen.
A day later, the Hawks signed current IceHogs defenseman and 2020 fifth-round draft pick Isaak Phillips to a three-year deal with a $859,167 cap hit per season. The 19-year-old has had a steady season in Rockford, with six points and an even plus-minus rating in 14 tilts as a regular in the line-up for the Hogs. Though it may be a while before he is seen in an NHL uniform, Phillips has had a recognizably strong first professional season and is a promising signing.
My goodness what a way to score your first professional goal.
Isaak Phillips with his first of the season and what a beauty it was. pic.twitter.com/7CxImcEVx3
— Thomas Mercier 🎙️ (@TJM_PlayByPlay) February 17, 2021
On Friday, Bowman was up to his old tricks, as the Blackhawks reacquired Vinnie Hinostroza from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Brad Morrison. In what has been a common move for Bowman to reinvest in a former draft pick for a second stanza with the club, with Hinostroza’s contract expiring at the end of this season, this could be a short and insignificant stay for him in the Windy City.
Don't forget: @KendallCoyne Schofield is subbing in for Eddie Olczyk (who's away on National game duties) for today's broadcast!
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 3, 2021
Lastly, on Saturday in her color commentary debut with the Hawks, Kendall Coyne Schofield was absolutely outstanding working with Pat Foley. Her analysis, delivery, sense of humor and style were on point. She continues to not only be an asset to the Blackhawks organization, but one of the best ambassadors for the game of hockey.