Friday, June 2 2023

10 observations: Hawks wrap up road trip with loss to Wild originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Blackhawks fell to the Minnesota Wild 3-1 at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday after giving up a late goal in the third period.

Here are 10 observations from the loss:

1. The Blackhawks went 1-4-0 on their season-long five-game road trip, and they were outscored 18-6 over that stretch. It looked like they were going to force overtime but West Dundee native Ryan Hartman scored the game-winning goal with 1:11 in regulation. The offense has dried up, and it was a tough way to end the trip.

2. Philipp Kurashev did not suit up after he exited Thursday’s game in Washington with an injury. Apparently he had his left arm in a sling. The Blackhawks’ roster is so thin up front that taking Kurashev out of the lineup seems like a massive loss for this group. And it is.

3. Ryan Reaves scored the opening goal of the game — his fourth goal in his last seven games — but he got away with a penalty, and head coach Luke Richardson was not happy about it. He thought Reaves wrapped his right hand around Wyatt Kaiser, who fell down and was taken out of the play. Richardson has a case.

4. Lukas Reichel put the Blackhawks on the board just 1:15 into the third period. He looked off Andreas Athanasiou on a 2-on-1 and fired one low blocker side. I like that he’s had a shooting-type mentality when he’s on an odd-man rush. He sells the pass the whole way then shoots at the last minute. Good sign.

5. Alex Stalock was back between the pipes — Petr Mrazek, who had been out with a groin injury, dressed as the backup — in his old stomping ground Minnesota. He didn’t face a ton of high-danger chances but he stopped the shots he needed to and kept his team in it. It was another quality start for Stalock.

6. Special teams were virtually non-existent through two periods. Then things got chippy in the third period, which led to some power-play time for both teams. I thought the Blackhawks were zipping it around on their first opportunity but they didn’t do much with their second.

7. Jujhar Khaira stepped up in the faceoff circle for the Blackhawks, whose center depth is seriously being tested right now. He won 10 of 14 draws for a win percentage of 71.4.

8. Reese Johnson returned to the lineup after missing more than a month with a concussion. His return was delayed after he got the stomach flu, too. He centered the fourth line with Mike Hardman and Buddy Robinson. He finished with five hits in 12:16 of ice time.

9. Filip Gustavsson has been absolutely terrific this season for the Wild, and it stayed that way in this game. He went into the day with a goals saved above expected per 60 minutes of 0.685, per Money Puck, which ranks third among all goaltenders. For context, Igor Shesterkin was the runaway winner of the Vezina Trophy last season and he was at 0.666. The Wild will have a tough decision on their hands of who to start in Game 1 of the playoffs: Gustavsson or Marc-Andre Fleury?

10. Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov reportedly isn’t close to returning, and he hasn’t even started skating yet after he suffered a lower-body injury on March 8. If he’s not ready for the playoffs, it would be a massive loss for the Wild, who are in the bottom third of the NHL in goals per game. Kirill The Thrill is as important to his team as anyone in the league.

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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