As the calendar shifts from January to February this week, we decided to take a look at what excites us for the month ahead. Originally, it was going to be a slow month for the Blackhawks. However, with the cancellation of the Olympic break and that time being used to catch up on games postponed due to COVID, February will have a ton going on.
Our Blackhawks writing team of Greg Boysen, Brooke LoFurno, Shaun Filippelli and Gail Kauchak will reunite to discuss this and more on the latest episode of Blackhawks Banter. Today, we give you a little preview of the discussion that will fall on Tuesday morning.
Shaun – Alex DeBrincat’s All-Star Debut
Despite the fact that the All-Star Game and its associated festivities hold an annual debate around relevance, there’s no denying that those who participate represent the best the league has to offer. As such, rather than fall victim to the jaded thought process that consumes so much of the collective, I simply choose to enjoy it for what it is. An opportunity to witness such a talent highlighted under another type of spotlight.
While I view this year’s event the same way, there will be one major difference that all of us Blackhawks fans will embrace – DeBrincat’s debut.
It’s safe to say that DeBrincat has earned the spot, as he battles alongside the league’s top scorers. He’s also increasingly becoming the focal point of his own line-up, despite the inclusion of a bonafide superstar like Patrick Kane. Although Kane still produces more than DeBrincat at the moment, it’s fair to say that DeBrincat’s impact proves to be more influential.
With nearly a decade of age difference between teammates, the Blackhawks considering their future means they need to see a lot more DeBrincat as part of those plans. It’s not that Kane can’t be useful anymore, but it’s time for DeBrincat to get behind the wheel and steer the Chicago ship.
That said, attending DeBrincat at the 2022 All-Star Game seems like a pivotal moment in the trajectory of his career, let alone how he will be watched in Chicago from then on. And given that he’ll be there and Kane won’t just continue the narrative that the torch has already been passed.
Gail – Blackhawks Competitive Hockey
The Blackhawks may not be winning many hockey games lately. But they’ve also had a tough competitive streak, facing the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild in four of their last five outings. Both of these teams are at (or near) the top of the Central Division. For the most part, the Blackhawks have come to participate in these competitions. I believe the team is starting to come together as a group and believe in themselves.
So, come February, I can’t wait to see if the Blackhawks can continue this trend and stage competitive hockey. Across nine contests, they face Central Division foes in five of them.
To start, they will face the Wild again, against whom they have already lost twice. One of these contests went to overtime; can they finally pull off a win against their division rival?
They will also meet the St. Louis Blues and former Blackhawk Brandon Saad twice this month. Chicago has shared competitions so far with St. Louis this season. The Blackhawks and Blues have had fierce competition through the ages. Should be fun to see this continue.
The Blackhawks will face the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars this month, to whom they already lost earlier this season. Will they be able to even the score?
Beyond that, the team takes on the Florida Panthers, who currently sit atop the Atlantic Division in the standings. It might not be the same as going up against their former coach in Joel Quenneville, but it’s definitely a matchup to be excited about.
Finally, the Blackhawks will meet the New Jersey Devils, against whom they lost in overtime on October 15, and the Columbus Blue Jackets, whom they beat 4-2 on January 11. are doing well in the standings either.
In short, the Blackhawks are unlikely to win this month and qualify for the playoffs. But they could definitely play competitive hockey and establish a winning culture and a game plan moving forward. Let’s see where that takes them.
Brooke – Bring on the special teams
What I’m looking forward to most with the Blackhawks in February is how special teams will continue to evolve. We’re all assuming by the trade deadline things will be different with the roster, but even now there’s been plenty of experience with the Blackhawks with the power play.
There are different anchors with Seth Jones and Erik Gustaffson. I think their power play has seemed more cohesive lately. Even on the non-scoring occasions, I think it feels more functional, so with different looks and players to come, it’ll be fun to see how the power play evolves.
When it comes to the penalty, they still struggle, but Sam Lafferty is a new face on the penalty spot that adds a new dimension of aggression needed to kill a penalty. I think it will get better in the future, so I’m looking forward to the unexpected that we can see from special teams in February.
Greg – More Taxi Teams and the Olympics
The two things I’m most excited about in February have little to do with the Blackhawks on the ice. Hopefully after the NHL All-Star hiatus, taxi teams will no longer be a thing, as per the original plan. If you follow my coverage of the American Hockey League (AHL), you know that taxi teams cause chaos at the AHL level, which in turn spills over to the ECHL and the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). ). While I understand the need for taxi teams, they do more harm than good for minor leagues and youth player development.
The Olympic hockey tournaments also start this month, with the women’s tournament starting on February 2 and the men’s tournament starting on February 9. Although no NHL players are making it to the tournament, Blackhawks fans still have plenty of reasons to tune in. .
Related – 2022 Men’s Olympic Tournament Guide
On the women’s side, Kendall Coyne Schofield will captain Team USA as they go for back-to-back gold medals. Goalie prospect Drew Commesso will be part of the men’s team. We just learned that former Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton will be Team Canada’s bench manager after Claude Julien was injured during a team practice. There will be plenty of former Blackhawks in the tournament like Artem Anisimov (Russia), Marcus Kruger (Sweden), Lucak Wallmark (Sweden), Joakim Nordstrom (Sweden), Dominik Kahun (Germany) and Michal Frolik (Czechia).
This is just one of the topics we will cover in the new episode of Blackhawks Banter. Be sure to tune in after the show ends on Tuesday morning. You can watch us on our YouTube channel or listen wherever you consume your favorite podcasts.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has served as site manager for FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully accredited for the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers, he covers the Blackhawks, the AHL, writes the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serves as editor, and appears and hosts several YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is accredited with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia games in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to suggest topics, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.