Hours before the puck drop, Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks resigned Tyler Sikura to a one year deal. From the surface, this deal seems insignificant. Why would anyone care about the Blackhawks signing a 25-year old forward who has yet to play an NHL game?
Sure, he has 25 points in 57 games in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs, a modest number. However, the impact the Blackhawks hope this deal causes, is the signing of Tyler’s younger brother, Dylan. Dylan Sikura, a senior at Northeastern college and the Blackhawks top prospect, has still not committed to the Blackhawks.
With 48 points in just 31 games, Sikura has established himself as one of the best players in college hockey, making it more important that the ‘Hawks sign him. And considering their dearth of young talent, it is imperative that Bowman doesn’t screw up this situation. Given how they have signed his older brother to a contract, it appears the Blackhawks are trying to do everything in their power to entice Dylan.
On the ice tonight, the Blackhawks started the scoring when defenseman Erik Gustafsson received a pass in the left end boards and threw the puck towards the net, deflecting off the skates of Avalanche defenseman Patrick Nemeth just five minutes into the first period, giving the ‘Hawks an early 1-0 advantage over Colorado.
This goal comes on the same day where the 25-year old signed a two-year contract extension of his own with the Blackhawks. This extension by the Blackhawks highlights their newfound desire to develop a young defensive core that they hope to develop into the kind of players that Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were in their primes.
On his day today, Gustafsson stated, “It was a good day – new contract, goal and a win too. Just like I said, it was a good day.”
Later in the second period on a power play for the Avalanche, Tyson Barrie made a fantastic pass to Nathan MacKinnon who sniped a shot past ‘Hawks net minder J.F. Berube to tie the game up at one apiece.
With 1:51 left in the second period, the referees struck against the Blackhawks. Trying to stuff the puck into the net, Brandon Saad kicked the puck into his stick (or apparently not according to the NHL) which deflected past the goal line into the net. The goal was reviewed by the NHL and it was determined that Brandon Saad kicked the puck into the net, thus knocking the goal off the board.
After an even final frame for both teams with no scoring, the game went to overtime. Just nine seconds into overtime, Patrick Kane sauced the puck to Jonathan Toews who snapped the puck past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov, giving the Blackhawks a 2-1 OT victory on Tuesday night.
All in all, this season has been a season of ups and downs (mostly downs). It feels like the Blackhawks have no future given how much money they have tied up in veteran players who are past their prime, and how they have very little young talent to draw from. However, if the season serves as a learning point for the players, and causes them to rebound next year, it will have been well worth it.
‘Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said after the game, “We need to grow. We need to learn from what we’ve been through. No better time than now. Don’t wait until the offseason, whenever that comes, or next year. We can all grow as players. Look around and let the bumps in the road sink in and just keep analyzing what we’ve gotta do better, and try and apply that as soon as we can.”