Blackhawks Head Into Philadelphia With Momentum
The Blackhawks are in Philadelphia today in an afternoon clash against the Flyers. Both of these teams are very similar in the standings and statistics. They both struggle with offense and that could be a key factor today. The Blackhawks are coming off of a 4-3 win in overtime against the Edmonton Oilers who they have played very well against in the last couple of years, including when they knocked them out of the 2020 play-in round for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Flyers are coming off of a 5-4 loss against the powerful Minnesota Wild. Both the Flyers and Blackhawks had very high expectations going into the 2021-2022 NHL season but have not fared well against the competition. The Blackhawks last win in Philadelphia came in 2010, and I'm sure every Hawks fan remembers that one. Patrick Kane tucked one in the back of the net which started the Blackhawks dynasty. Today's game starts a back-to-back weekend of games for the Hawks, playing the defending cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning. Philadelphia comes in as the favorite today, but the Blackhawks try to complete back-to-back wins.
Right away in this competition, you could tell that there was going to be very tight checking meaning it was going to be tough to generate scoring chances and getting into the attacking zone. The Blackhawks have not been a very good scoring team in the first period all season and it seems like they always go into the first intermission without a goal. The Flyers got off to a good start, hitting the post about two minutes into the game off of a redirect. Philadelphia finds themselves in the goalies crease a lot, getting greasy goals off of rebounds and redirects. That is exactly what happened as the Flyers got on the board first with a redirected shot by Oscar Lindblom, putting the Flyers up by a score of 1-0. Both of these teams have had an extremely tough time keeping leads all season, so the Blackhawks did not count themselves out early and put the pressure on right after the Flyers goal. They did not score, but they were able to get some momentum going into the second. With about five seconds left in the first period, Riley Stillman hit the post which would have been a much needed goal from the Blackhawks, tying the game going into the break. But, the Flyers would have a one goal lead going into the second period.
The second period for the Blackhawks has been a much different story than the first period all year. Just a few minutes in, the great faceoff man, Jonathan Toews won a draw cleanly to Alex Debrincat who fired it right past Martin Jones to tie the game. This was a much needed goal for the Hawks with the Flyers struggling to keep the lead. The Hawks would use that goal to fuel their offense and they took over the game puck control wise. Soon after, Dylan Strome was able to stay hot, scoring on a one-timer off of a beautiful pass from Patrick Kane. It was a very nice zone-entry play started by Dominik Kubalik who has been on the trade market. He would be a nice addition for a team looking for a young goal scorer. But, the momentum would not continue and the Flyers would capitalize off of a bad bounce off of the end boards. This would tie the game and the Flyers got a power-play right after the goal by Cam Atkinson because of a huge scrum sending Jonathan Toews and Calvin De Haan to the penalty box. The Philadelphia power-play has been horrific all year and would not be able to score again, keeping the game tied. The penalty kill would give the Hawks confidence as Dylan Strome scored his second goal of the period, putting the Blackhawks up 3-2. The five on five scoring has been great for Chicago, which has been a struggle all year. The Blackhawks have not been on a power-play all game. The Blackhawks would take a one goal lead into the final period.
The Blackhawks are 13-1-3 leading after two periods and they would try to finish off this one. However, the Flyers had other plans with Derick Brassard tying the game at three. This game was going to be a battle until the end with fights occurring left and right. The Flyers then took the lead off a weird shot from Cam Atkinson. There were a lot of screens out in front of Lankinen and he just straight up lost the view of the puck. The Blackhawks would now have to play from behind late in this contest. There was more fighting and more penalties which eventually led to Seth Jones taking a high stick. This put the Blackhawks on their first power-play. The Blackhawks did not do much on the man advantage, only registering one shot on goal. If the Blackhawks wanted to tie up this game, the only thing that would help them do this is pulling Lankinen to get the extra attacker. That is exactly what they did with about two minutes remaining but the Blackhawks got caught with too many men on the ice, which was the fourth time in the last two games. This would end up finishing the game and the Flyers came out on top, 4-3.
After this game, the spotlight is on Marc-Andre Fleury and his trade decision. He stated that he is leaning toward staying in Chicago and finishing off the season so he would not have to move his family. However, if he does want to be traded, he would probably be worth a first-round draft pick. New general manager Kyle Davidson said that he is going to be going into a rebuild mode, which would mean moving Fleury if he does want to be moved. Patrick Kane also said that it would be an honor to finish his career in Chicago, where he has been for fifteen years, but he understands the business sides of things. The Colorado Avalanche stated that they are going all-in on Kane, and they are looking into possibly trading for Marc-Andre Fleury. We will see what happens as we are just two weeks away from the looming trade deadline, and I expect the Blackhawks to sell a lot of pieces. The Blackhawks will travel back to Chicago tonight, and will face the Lighting tomorrow night. They will start a two game homestand starting tomorrow night. The lightning have played very well in the past two seasons against the Blackhawks but the Hawks will try to put on a show for the great Blackhawk fans at home.
-Jack P. (IG: @jackpolkow / Twitter: @polkowjack)