The Chicago Blackhawks welcomed the Seattle Kraken Thursday night for a late-season game between two teams who have little to play for. The Blackhawks sat ahead of the Kraken in the standings by nine points, but both were just going through the motions to get this season over with.
To add a little excitement for the evening, the Blackhawks had a ceremonial one-day contract signing so that Marian Hossa could “officially” retire as a member of the Blackhawks. From the Blackhawks’ perspective, it was nice to see that familiar face once again. Following the pre-game ceremony, the Blackhawks also announced that Hossa’s number will be retired next season.
Marian Hossa’s first ballot Hall of Fame legacy is worth more than one night of recognition. It’s a legacy worthy of eternity. pic.twitter.com/JCnQh5SRxW
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 8, 2022
There was a game to be played, though (allegedly).
The Blackhawks had some jump in their step following the opening face-off, but that soon ended. After going up early in shots 2–0, the home team ended up surrendering 16 straight to the Kraken. Heading into the first intermission, the score remained 0–0 thanks to some heroics by Chicago goaltender Kevin Lankinen. The final first period tally was 17–3.
Before most of the fans were able to make it back into their seats, Kraken center Alexander Wennberg faked Jake McCabe out of his skates then went around Lankinen to give the Kraken the only goal they would end up needing for a 1–0 lead. This was Wennberg’s 10th goal of the season.
The rest of the second period (and essentially the game) was the Philipp Grubauer show. Chicago came out and peppered the Seattle netminder with 15 shots, but none reached the back of the net. When the second period horn went off, the Blackhawks had almost erased the 14-shot deficit from the first period, but the Kraken still led by a much slimmer margin, 21–18.
The third period was a much more even one. The Blackhawks sent 11 more shots Grubauer’s way, but never got that elusive first goal, while the Kraken got a late goal from Jordan Eberle, who sent a wrist shot through three Blackhawks defenders and past Lankinen to double the gap to 2–0. The goal came with only 1:39 left in regulation, and immediately send the Chicago crowd heading for the exits.
🏒 It cannot be overstated that the Blackhawks were not only booed following a very bad 5-on-3 power play, but were booed as they left the ice. They are a bad team, but they have enough talent to not be whitewashed at home against an equally bad team. They were 0–4 on the power play against a team that has the 27th-ranked penalty kill. The Blackhawks should have feasted on that.
🏒 Blackhawks rookie Alex Vlasic suited up and played (allegedly), but I cannot recall one play he made on the ice. Highly touted rookie Lukas Reichel was slightly more noticeable for Chicago, but barely.
⚓ On the other hand, Grubauer needed a big game and the team needed one to rally around their big-salary starter. Lately, Chris Driedger has been outplaying Grubauer by a significant amount. As much as I like Driedger, they cannot go into the offseason with a goalie controversy in which one of the players has played himself off the market.
⚓ Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn went down and into the end boards awkwardly in the second period. It originally looked like he would be out long term, but luckily, he returned to play in the third period.
⚓ The way the Kraken started the game, it should be no surprise that they led in most advanced possession stats.
🔱 5-on-5 Corsi (total shot attempts) 54%–46%
🔱 5-on-5 Fenwick (Unblocked shot attempts) 53%–47%
🔱 5-on-5 High-danger chances for 62%–38%
🔱 5-on-5 Expected goals for 60%–40%
🔱 Face-off percentage 56%–44%
⚓ The Kraken are off today and return to home ice to face the Calgary Flames on Saturday. The puck drop is scheduled for 4 p.m. PDT.
🏒 The Blackhawks host the Dallas Stars on Sunday evening. The puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. CDT.