Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Red Wings: Lacking jump

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Red Wings: Lacking jump

DETROIT – Getting the early lead was one thing. Following it up was another, and the Blackhawks couldn’t do that against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Playing without Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson didn’t help – coach Joel Quenneville didn’t want to tax the two players, both coming back from injuries, with three games in four days. But the Blackhawks’ overall game just wasn’t there.

Anyway, it’s a pretty quick turnaround. So let’s get to the notables.

What Worked: The Red Wings’ response after Justin Abdelkader’s hit. Oh, the Blackhawks’ immediate response was fine. Abdelkader hit Brian Campbell high and late, and Trevor van Riemsdyk went after Abdelkader. But it was the Red Wings who capitalized following that fracas, scoring twice in the final 3:35 of the first period, turning the Blackhawks’ early 1-0 lead into a 2-1 deficit.

What Didn’t Work: The Blackhawks’ overall game. It’s been a while since we’ve said this but the Blackhawks were flat. As Patrick Kane said, it was surprising that the Blackhawks’ last game at Joe Louis Arena didn’t draw the expected enthusiasm level. Hey, this rivalry isn’t what it used to be thanks to realignment, and perhaps coming off the back to back – or even looking ahead to Sunday – factored into Friday’s bad game.

Star of the game: Tomas Tatar. Net-front presence is big, and Tatar was supplying it all night. When he wasn’t providing a screen on Andreas Athanasiou’s late-first period goal, Tatar was assisting or scoring his own. He finished with two goals and an assist, to give Detroit their last victory over the Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena.

He Said It: “Yeah, nice to see Riems jump in there. I didn’t see the hit but it must’ve been pretty bad for Riemer to jump in. Good to see him stick up for his teammate.” — Corey Crawford on van Riemsdyk’s reaction to the hit on Campbell

By the Numbers:

4 – Goals allowed by the Blackhawks on Friday, the most they’ve allowed since Jan. 26 (vs. Winnipeg).

900 – Career regular-season games for Duncan Keith.

400 – Career regular-season games for Andrew Desjardins, who was back in the lineup on Friday.

1,127 – Career points for Marian Hossa following his assist on van Riemsdyk’s second-period goal. Hossa is now 55th all-time in NHL history in points.

Report: Blackhawks will head to Edmonton in NHL's Return to Play plan

Report: Blackhawks will head to Edmonton in NHL's Return to Play plan

The NHL and NHL Players' Association worked diligently into the late hours on Tuesday and reportedly made significant progress as the two sides look to come to an overall agreement on the protocols and safety measures for Phase 3 and 4, transition rules and a Collective Bargaining Agreement extension. 

Nothing is official until the entire deal is ratified — the voting could take place Friday or Saturday — but, barring any last-minute breakdowns, Edmonton and Toronto are expected to be named the two hub cities for the league's 24-team Return to Play plan, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. Chicago was among the four finalists from a field that started with 10 candidates.

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Vegas was a clear frontrunner from the beginning because of its appealing and tight bubble environment, but the NHL and NHLPA were forced to shift its attention elsewhere after an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases.

It was originally believed that the league would put each conference in opposite regions to eliminate any sort of competitive advantage, but that no longer appears to be the case. The Western Conference is expected to play in Edmonton while the Eastern Conference will go to Toronto, which means the Blackhawks will head to Edmonton if or when hockey officially returns.

Both hub cities will host exhibition games, the qualifying round and Rounds 1 and 2 of the playoffs, but only one of them will host the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final. It's unclear which city will host the latter.

Report: Blackhawks' Ian Mitchell not expected to play in NHL's 24-team playoff

Report: Blackhawks' Ian Mitchell not expected to play in NHL's 24-team playoff

When the NHL's Return To Play plan and 24-team playoff format were originally being hashed out, there was some hope that the Blackhawks could receive some much-needed defensive depth from Ian Mitchell. But that may not be the case.

Chicago could use all the help they can get in their potential best-of-5 play-in series against the Oilers under the league's format.

Mitchell, 21, was drafted by the Hawks in the second round (No. 57 overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft. He spent the past three seasons at the University of Denver, captaining the Pioneers this past year and setting a career high in goals (10) and points (32) through 36 games.

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The promising defenseman signed a three-year entry-level contract with Chicago in April after the NHL paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11.

Wednesday morning, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported players in a similar boat to Mitchell who signed during the pause, as well as unsigned draft picks, are not expected to be eligible if and when the NHL resumes to finish the 2019-20 season.