21 Mar The Almost Daily Hockey Blog 3/21/18
Giving you all the hockey news you may have missed while you were out with the boys, slaying with the girls, or grinding through the night
The Chicago Blackhawks will miss the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.
Tough look for the city of Chicago and one of the NHL’s most beloved franchises. The team may have won 3 Stanley Cups since the salary cap era began-but they have been on a steady decline these last few years-having ended their past two seasons with two straight first round exits with losses to St. Louis in 16 as well as to the eventual Western Conference Champion Nashville Predators in 17 in 4 games. This season several players left, Marion Hossa was unable to play, Brian Campbell retired, they were sellers at the trade deadline, and they will now be watching this year’s playoffs from the couch for the first time in a decade. They have some young guns on the team- Alex Debrincat is 20 and Nick Schmaltz is 22 and both have 20+ goals on the year-and Kane is still an all star level player-but their cap will make it hard to do a ton in the offseason barring some restructuring and hard to make moves. Some say head coach Joe Quenneville may be on the hot seat after being the coach for the Blackhawks since 2008 and for all 3 of their Stanley Cups in recent memory. No matter what happens in Chicago the rest of the year, as the great Bob Dylan once said, “Times they are a changing,” and changes are surely bound to happen for the once great but now staggering franchise.
Marc Andre-Fleury out against San Jose after taking a puck off the dome:
It’s been hard to watch Fleury in net recently as he continued his recent struggles, giving up four goals against the Devils last Wednesday, followed by allowing three goals against the Wild on Friday. Things were just starting to look up as recorded his fourth shutout of the season and 48th of his career on Sunday against the Flames while also recording the most saves he’s had in a game since their first ever game back in October with 42. That all ended when he got hit with a puck to the mask while trying to save a shot in the first period against the Canucks last night. This is not good for Fleury, who is just getting back from a previous concussion, and it is also not good for the Knights. If Fleury is already struggling and now has concussion issues, he could now further struggle to keep confidence and remain confident going into the playoffs. Only having one solid goaltender and having the other one be rattled and not themselves could be a huge disadvantage for the Knights as they climb further and further towards the playoffs and if he doesn’t get back to himself soon, that could lead to some key games being lost come playoff time. Fleury needs to get healthy and confident and that needs to happen soon. If not, Subban will have a huge load on his shoulders going forward. It would be much better for them to share that load going into the most important time of the year and especially because this team has obviously never played in the playoffs together before which could give more experienced teams who have had time to gel together in big game situations and advantage.
Patrik Laine out after sustaining lower body injury while blocking shot in game against the Kings:
Not exactly what The Jets were hoping for as they make a push towards the playoffs; their first since they were swept by the Ducks in the first round of the 14-15 tourney. Laine has been lighting the league on fire this year, amassing 43 goals and 25 assists, and was also in the middle of a 15 game point streak at the time of the injury. The Jets’ next game is not until Friday so it gives Laine time to recover, but the team will definitely have to think about how much they want to use him for the remainder of the regular season as they hope to make a withstanding playoff run. Hopefully he can get back to ice soon.
Erik Karlsson out as it was announced that he and his wife Melinda’s baby was born still born yesterday:
Truly heartbreaking stuff. Few people have been so heart warming to watch as they went from announcing their engagement, to getting married, to announcing their pregnancy in a gender reveal video than the Karlssons. To now have this happen to them is a down right tragedy and was something the Karlssons didn’t need as The Senators are plummeting into oblivion and rumors of a Karlsson departure have been swirling the superstar for months. However, despite the Senators struggles this season, it’s times like these that make you realize there are some things that are more important than hockey. I wish Erik and Melinda the best of luck and send my warm wishes and condolences in this difficult time and hope they have many wonderful, healthy children together and they all live happy and healthy lives. This one will sting, but time will heal all wounds and hopefully Erik feels good enough to return to the ice soon. It would definitely help take his mind off it. Sports can sometimes truly be therapy and this is one of those times. Best of luck to them.
Ryan Donato scores a goal, gets three points in Bruins debut, and then goes back to class at Harvard the following day.
I truly love this story. What an all time humble move by the young beauty. The kid represented the United States in the Olympics, was a stud at Harvard where he amassed 40+ points in two consecutive seasons, joined the Bruins and scored his first NHL goal in his first game, and celebrated by going to class. He could have hit the town with the boys and found some rockets to take home, but instead went to class to finish getting his degree. While my parents would probably want me to do the same and would have killed me if I had joined the NHL early (followed by me waking up from my dream), I would expect few of us would be able to even walk back on campus after the roll he has been on, myself included. The Sky is the limit for this guy and it surely looks like it will be very fun to watch. Good luck to the young guy.