It wasn’t the prettiest hockey ever played, but Friday night’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes was entertaining. Both teams generated scoring chances with some fast north/south play. In the end, the shorthanded Blackhawks snapped their four-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory. Alex Stalock made 22 saves to pick up his first NHL shutout since Feb. 28, 2020, when he was a member of the Minnesota Wild.
Patrick Kane Misses Rare Game
The Blackhawks haven’t been able to count on much over the past few seasons, but one thing they could rely on was Patrick Kane being in the lineup. Since his broken clavicle in 2015, he has only missed four games. He did not return to Tuesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning after the second intermission. Kane confirmed the lower-body injury that has been bothering him occurred on a hit from San Jose Sharks forward Evgeny Svechnikov.
Kane participated in Friday’s morning skate but decided to play it safe and not dress for the tilt against the Coyotes.
“I feel good, for the most part,” he revealed. “I don’t think it’s anything extremely long-term. We’ll take it day by day. To be honest, I feel like I could play. There are certain situations where there is lingering pain. It is what it is right now.”
Head coach Luke Richardson said getting his superstar winger to sit this one out was difficult.
“He probably shouldn’t have played the last game and thought he could make it through,” he said. “He doesn’t want to put the team in that position again. It was kind of like taking nails out of an old log. He just didn’t want to say he couldn’t go. We’ll see how he is for Sunday; if not, we have a few days after that. It’s the smart move for Patrick and the team.”
While Kane hasn’t been racking up the goals like we are used to, he is still this team’s leading scorer with 27 points. He leads the team with 133 shots on goal, nearly 60 more than anyone else on the roster. His biggest issue this season has been his shooting percentage. Kane is shooting at 5.3% this season. If he were shooting at his career average of 11.4%, he’d have five more goals on the season. Even with the below-average numbers, there is no doubt that he is still the most dangerous weapon in Chicago.
The Blackhawks still held a big advantage without their shot leader throughout the game. When the final horn sounded, they outshot the Coyotes 32-22 and had a 51-40 edge in 5v5 shot attempts.
Lukas Reichel & Brett Seney Find Ways to Contribute
With Kane out, it will take a team effort to try to replace his production. Two new bodies were entered into the fold, with Lukas Reichel and Brett Seney coming up from the Rockford IceHogs. Richardson said they would both get an even bigger look with their top star missing the game.
“Both of them will move up on both 5v5 and the power play,” he said after the morning skate. “That gives them more of an opportunity.”
Reichel was put right on the top line with Max Domi and Philipp Kurashev. He looked like a different player right from the jump, creating good scoring chances early. He used his speed to get behind the defense late in the first period but flipped the puck over the net. Reichel provided a screen to take away the eyes of goaltender Connor Ingram on Jake McCabe’s second-period goal. He finished his evening with one shot on goal, three shot attempts, a blocked shot, and a plus-1 rating in 15:05 of ice time.
Seney was slotted into the third line with Jason Dickinson and Andreas Athanasiou and got some time with the second power-play unit. He was on the wrong end of a couple of big hits in the opening period, but he held his own. In the second period, he drove hard to the net and drew a hooking penalty on Jakob Chychrun, but the Blackhawks didn’t convert. Seney played 17:06 in his Blackhawks debut and had three shot attempts, two hits, and a takeaway.
All-Star Seth Jones Looking for More Shots
Defenseman Seth Jones was named as the Blackhawks’ representative at the NHL All-Star Game. This is the fourth time he will take part in All-Star Weekend, and he’s happy with being nominated even though he has to cut his bye week plans short in order to play.
“It’s always a fun time,” he said. “You go and have fun and play 3v3 hockey in front of a good crowd. You get to showcase your skill.”
Even with the honor, he is not thrilled with his overall performance this season.
“Offensively, I don’t like the numbers I have,” Jones said on Friday morning. “It’s been a struggle defensively as a team in keeping the puck out of our net.”
Jones was candid when asked what he needs to do to feel more satisfied with his output.
“We haven’t gotten a lot of O-zone time this year, as a team, so taking advantage of it when I do have that time,” he admitted. “I can shoot more pucks at 5v5 and on the power play and be more aggressive. I think I’ve been shooting a little more this year, just hasn’t been going in.”
Richardson added that he is encouraged by Jones’ play of late. He constantly communicates his expectations, and the veteran blueliner is on the same page.
“He’s probably disappointed more than anybody,” Richardson said. “I talked to him yesterday and said things are looking up. I told him we need you to shoot more, and he said, ‘yeah, I know.’ He knows. When you’re gun shy, you’re gun shy. He was waiting to pull that trigger for the perfect time. I said, ‘the perfect time is now.’ Shoot the puck when you see a hole or a stick at the net for a deflection. I thought the last game was a good step in the right direction for him.”
Jones scored the first power-play goal by a Blackhawks defenseman in 123 games against the Lightning. Coming into Friday’s game, he was third on the team with 73 shots on goal, and that is even with missing 10 games due to a broken thumb. Jones has been more aggressive of late, with at least three shots in eight of his last 12 games. He is on pace for 195 shots on goal, one more than he had in his first season with the Blackhawks.
Chicago’s lone All-Star had himself a nice night at both ends of the ice. He had the primary assist on McCabe’s goal. He added three shots on goal on five attempts, one hit, two takeaways, and two blocked shots while playing a team-high 25:32. Jones also made a handful of plays that don’t show up on the scoresheet and rarely ever get mentioned. Twice he was able to avoid contact deep in his own zone and quickly get the puck up the ice. There is no other defenseman on this team that can consistently make those types of plays.