In their second preseason game, the Chicago Blackhawks renewed their rivalry with the St. Louis Blues on Friday night at the United Center. After the long-standing rivals had spent the season shortened by the pandemic in different divisions, the long-standing rivals played against each other for the first time since March 8, 2020.
The game was an opportunity for fans to see off-season goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury, defensemen Seth Jones and Jake McCabe, and striker Tyler Johnson in a Hawks sweater. In addition, last season’s two top scorers Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, who were both named alternate captains for the 2021-22 season earlier this week, made their first preseason appearances. After getting his entry-level contract just two months after he was 30th in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft from the Blackhawks,
For the Blues, Friday was their fourth preseason game after a 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday evening.
The Blues controlled the game for most of the first period, as they spent most of the time in the Blackhawks’ zone, which was limited for almost a minute by a two-man advantage that the Hawks killed. While the Blackhawks fans were understaffed, they got the chance to see two of their newest stars tackle a difficult situation when a blues shot splashed through Fleury’s pads, only to be erased by Jones.
The Blues took the 1-0 lead at the 10:54 mark after Kane passed them along the half-boards to the Blues’ Tanner Kaspick, who slid the puck into the slot and dropped it on Nathan Todd, who shot a quick Wristr snapped past the blocker from Fleury.
The Blackhawks found their legs in the final seven minutes as they created multiple scoring opportunities, including some from Ryan Carpenter, who was their best striker of the period. After one, the Blues held 11-10 shots at goal advantage and a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.
It took about half the time for the offensive lock gates to open.
At 10:14 am, while the Hawks had the advantage, Pavel Buchnevich cleared the puck directly on Fleury, who hit it to the right. Brayden Schenn checked in Jones, who lost his stick in the corner, and Schenn found a wide-open Buchnevich who buried a one-timer from the left point past Fleury to extend St. Louis’ lead to 2-0.
On the same power play, just 39 seconds later, the Blackhawks cut the lead in half to 2-1 when Kane, while running along the left half wall, found Johnson in the left circle and he walked across the ice to DeBrincat, who tried to take a shot from the right circle at 10:53 of the middle frame.
After Collin Delia Fleury relieved the pressure on the net, which was announced before the game, Robert Thomas won back a two-goal lead for the Blues after another offensive zone envelope from Kane. Justin Faulk led a blues onslaught the other way and Jake Neighbors found Thomas take Jones a step and went on Delia’s side to give the Blues a 3-1 advantage.
With just over a minute left in the second, DeBrincat found a loose puck and distributed it to a jammed Caleb Jones, who buried it on a nearly wide-open cage to reduce the Hawks’ deficit to 3-2.
After two spells, the Blues led the Hawks 3-2 and had a 24-20 advantage on shots on goal.
At the start of the third round, after Dmitri Osipov received an undisciplined counter-penalty from the Hawks, Ivan Barbashev used a loose puck in front of Delia to give the Blues a 4-2 lead at 5:17.
At 2:35 p.m., Vladimir Tarasenko, who made his preseason debut, made a nice give-and-go with the neighbors that ended with Tarasenko finishing with the right hash marks to extend the Blues’ lead to 5-2 .
Carpenter was rewarded with 4:02 minutes for his work in this play. Dylan Strome started the game behind the net as he was chasing the puck and the Blues defenders lost his stick. The puck found Calvin de Haan in the slot and he backhanded the puck to Carpenter, who chips it in to cut St. Louis’ lead to 5-3.
With the Hawks’ net empty for the additional attacker, Tarasenko won a board fight in his own zone and sent the puck the other way, which resulted in the neighbors having a three-point night with a goal to expand the lead Blues crowned to 6-3, that was the final.
The third period was almost all of St. Louis when they outscored the Hawks 16-7 for the game and 40-27 for the game.
Analysis: the good, the bad, and the ugly
The good: Carpenter had a strong game in all three zones. The puck seemed to find him, as he created several chances in the first and was rewarded with a goal in the third for his efforts.
Caleb Jones had a strong game when he made a skilful pinch for a goal in the second in the offensive zone and was mainly responsible defensively.
In the second game in a row, Lukas Reichel played well alongside Brandon Hagel and Jonathan Toews. Reichel demonstrated enormous ability and a “will to” attitude at the fore check. While I predicted he wasn’t going to get the team out of camp, Blackhawk’s head coach Jeremy Colliton may have no choice but to find a place for him if he plays like this or better.
The bad: Sales, sales and sales. Have we seen this movie before? The Blackhawks continue to flip the puck at an alarming rate in their own zone. By my count, Kane had two that led straight to goals.
Seth Jones. I wondered if I should put it in the bad or ugly column because it was definitely not good. He’s been on the ice for three goals by my count and had pulled his bag several times, but his first exhibition game in a new city, with a new team, in a new system is NOT the time to panic and get him A denote the failed move by General Manager Stan Bowman.
The ugly: 40 shots on goal while most of your regulars are playing? Ouch! Again, it’s very early and not the time to panic, but I want to see Colliton develop as head coach. He’s had the most talent to work with since becoming head of bank, but I still don’t see any semblance of defensive structure in Colliton’s “system”.
The Blackhawks and Blues meet tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. at the Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, Missouri. Unfortunately, there is no television or radio broadcast for this game.
Roof, roof, devil!
Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks agreed a three-year entry-level contract with striker Colton Dach that runs through the 2023-24 season with an annual salary cap of $ 870,000. The 18-year-old Dach is a second round pick (62nd overall) of the Blackhawks in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and joins his older brother, Blackhawks Center Kirby Dach, in the organization. Colton was at training camp with the Blackhawks but is very likely to play for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League this season after being traded there from the Saskatoon Blades earlier this week. During the 2020/21 season, Colton recorded a team lead with 11 goals and 20 points for the Blades.