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Three Hawks Hits: Alex Stalock steals a win for the Blackhawks over the Nashville Predators

Greg Boysen Avatar
March 17, 2023

The Chicago Blackhawks continue to be a pain in the rear for their opponents as this roster full of players with something to prove won their second straight game. For the past few games, the goaltending, which was supposed to be a major weakness, has carried this team. It was Alex Stalock’s turn to shine as he made 34 saves in a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators. The victory ended Nashville’s 16-game point streak versus the Blackhawks.

The Predators were the better team for much of the first 20 minutes, but Stalock was up to the task and kept all nine shots he faced out of the net. Late in the opening frame, Lukas Reichel and Andreas Athanasiou entered the zone on a 2-on-1 rush. Reichel deferred to pass, and a sliding Dante Fabbro knocked the puck into his own net to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.

It was more of the same for Stalock and the Blackhawks in the middle frame as he denied all 11 Predators’ shots. For the second straight game, Stalock had to face a penalty shot after he threw his stick at Rasmus Asplund.

Fortunately for Stalock and the Blackhawks, Matt Duchene lost the handle on the puck and never got a shot off, much like David Pastranak of the Boston Bruins did on Tuesday.

Joey Anderson’s second goal in as many games gave the Blackhawks an insurance goal midway through the final stanza. Since being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs, he has three goals and five points in 10 games. Roman Josi added a goal in the final minute, but it was too little, too late for the Predators.

Greg’s Hit: Lukas Reichel All-Around Game Continues to Improve

Many Blackhawks fans were frustrated with how much time Lukas Reichel spent with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League this season. General manager Kyle Davidson seems determined not to make the same mistakes the past regime made when it comes to developing top prospects. All the extra seasoning in Rockford is paying off for Reichel at the NHL level.

Reichel scored his third goal of the season – the eventual game-winner – thanks to a little bit of puck luck.

The 20-year-old winger is starting to be the difference maker we all hoped he’d be when he was drafted 17th overall in 2020. His confidence is at an all-time high, both with and without the puck. With the puck, in addition to his goal, he led the team with three shots on goal. He also made some crisp and accurate passes all game long. Without the puck, he had a takeaway, a hit, and two blocked shots.

We are seeing Reichel become more than just a one-dimensional player. His time in the AHL has let him focus on his overall development and learn what he does without the puck is just as important as what he does with it.

Jay’s Hit: Boris Katchouk – Jujhar Khaira – Joey Anderson light it up

I’ll take “Headlines I Never Thought I’d Type” for $500, Alex. 

The Blackhawks third line of Boris Katchouk, Jujhar Khaira, and Joey Anderson has been absolutely terrific since the trade deadline. Before the game, Luke Richardson told the ESPN crew that they have been the Hawks best line. 

In Thursday’s win over the Predators, a great effort from Anderson behind the Nashville net caused a turnover to Katchouk, who gave it right back to Anderson for a goal. Katchouk also rang a puck off the post in the third period.  

Katchouk ended the game with an assist, three shots on goal and eight more shot attempts. He has five points in his last four games. 

Anderson had a goal, two shots, and four shot attempts, and has six points in his last five games. 

Khaira had two shots and two more shot attempts in the win. Despite being held off the score sheet on Thursday, he has five points in the last five games. 

The trio also had a combined seven points in Tuesday’s win over the NHL-leading Boston Bruins. 

They’ve been playing hard. They’ve been playing with confidence. They’ve been difference makers most nights. 

After Tuesday’s game, Luke Richardson talked about Kathcouk’s confidence. “You can see something there. It’s just the confidence to do it.” Confidence is something he had been lacking for much of this season. Even in practice he would struggle to do the simplest things. Missing open net shots, sometimes whiffing, then looking to heavens as if to ask, “What the hell is wrong with me.” That’s why, even as advanced statistics evolve and grow, the human element can’t be ignored. If a player feels good, he’ll play better. All three of these Blackhawks are playing with confidence. 

Thursday night, Richardson called them, “unbelievable.” 

That’s an understatement. I don’t think anyone would have believed this line was capable of this kind of play. I’m glad to be among those proven wrong.

Mario’s Hit: The Full Experience

It’s another edition of the Alex Stalock Experience tonight and boy, how do you not root for this guy?

Like, yeah, the Blackhawks need to be losing games, but for a player like Stalock and what he has gone through in his career, having this kind of season on the ice is awesome to see. 

Another interesting sequence tonight that included going half-way down the ice to play a puck when the Predators were bearing down on him, throwing his stick and causing a penalty shot, then saving the penalty shot, then having his mask broken, all while recording 35-save win, and Stalock has earned himself a beer and a slab of ribs in Nashville tonight. 

With the win, Stalock’s season numbers improve to a 9-8-1 record with a .922 save-percentage and a 2.70 GAA. He rank sixth in the NHL this season in save-percentage and 22nd in GAA among goalies to play at least 15 games this season. He’s also ranks fifth in the league in Goals Saved Above Average per 60 minutes at 0.58 amongst goalies to play at least 800 minutes this season.

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