Did you stay up late for this whole game? Were you even able to see it on ESPN+/Hulu? If your answer to one or both of these questions is ‘yes,’ then come on down and claim your prize. At least we were treated to a highly entertaining game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings in the second meeting between these teams this season.
Taylor Raddysh opened the scoring for the Blackhawks on the powerplay in the first period, but former Blackhawk Philip Danault scored the game-tying goal for the Kings early in the second period. After a flurry of chances for the Kings at the end of regulation were denied by Petr Mrazek, the game would head to overtime knotted at 1-1. In the extra frame, it was Mrazek again coming up huge for the Blackhawks to keep them in the game against a plethora of chances for the Kings. Not to be outdone in the overtime period, Jonathan Quick denied Max Domi and Jonathan Toews several times with just a minute to go. That would prove to be the difference, as the Kings would eventually find the game-winner on the stick of Kevin Fiala with just 1.4 seconds left in overtime.
It was a battle, and I loved every minute of it.
Toews Nearing 500
Things you continue to love to see: Jonathan Toews being effective.
Not only is Toews producing at one of his best rates to begin a season in his career, but he is also reaching important milestones for his Blackhawks legacy. He picked up the primary assist on Taylor Raddysh’s powerplay goal in the first period. The assist was Toews’ 498th in a Blackhawks sweater.
Toews is squarely in eighth place on the all-time assists list for the Blackhawks but is within reasonable striking distance of Steve Larmer (517) and former teammate Duncan Keith (520) for seventh and sixth place on the all-time list, respectively. I believe that Toews wants to be a “one team” player when his career is said and done. If he continues to climb these all-time charts in Chicago, it may lead him to a stronger desire to finish his career as a Blackhawk, and only as a Blackhawk.
Oh, and he won 18 of 21 faceoffs tonight.
Mrazek Back In Net
There was good news for the Blackhawks this week on the goalie front as Petr Mrazek was taken off IR, and an apparent injury to Arvid Söderblom turned out to be nothing serious. Mrazek hadn’t played since October 21 after leaving a game against Detroit with a groin strain. He missed much of last season with groin issues, and having the same injury flare-up this early in the season was concerning.
Getting back into the net tonight against the Kings, Mrazek made 29 saves on 31 shots faced in the last-second overtime loss, moving his record this season to 1-1-1.
He was tested early, and so was his groin, as he had to make a big save early in the first period and another groin-stretching save at the end of the second period. Late in the third period, with the game on the line, Mrazek made a handful of crucial saves for Chicago that kept the game tied and eventually sent the game into overtime. It appears to be so far so good upon his return to action for the Blackhawks.
The Storyline That Will Not Go Away
One of the great things about the local broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago for the Blackhawks is that we’ve already run the gamut on the “will they/won’t they” of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Our CHGO Blackhawks crew has weighed in on the topic essentially since we launched back in March of this year.
But listening to and watching the national media talk about the futures of Toews and Kane, and the speculations surrounding their potential trades away from the Blackhawks, was another smack of the stick onto the proverbial “dead horse” that is the topic of their futures. Until they ask to be traded, they will not be traded. That, according to Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson.
Although the national discourse was surface and nothing we hadn’t heard before, there were props for the ESPN+ broadcast crew tonight. Longtime ESPN NHL veteran Linda Cohn had the “sideline” reporting duties on the crew tonight along with play-by-play voice Mike Monaco, with Cassie Campbell-Pascall working on commentary. Cohn said in a discussion with Patrick Kane before the game that he doesn’t think about his playing future. But when pressed, Cohn said Kane expressed that “in quiet moments at home,” he ponders what his future in the NHL holds.
It might not be much, but coming from a conversation with a notably unexpressive Patrick Kane, it’s not nothing. We’ve heard the line from Kane and his agent Pat Brisson that they are waiting to see what happens this season before making any kind of future decision. Same for fellow Brisson client Jonathan Toews. But for the first time, we’re hearing that Patrick Kane, much like the rest of us, allows his mind to ponder the future when things get quiet. I can only imagine he is having these inner thoughts during his son’s nap times, as that is also the only “quiet time” in my house with my one-year-old.