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Blackhawks Amused & Confused: Draft Lottery & Playoffs



In the Blackhawks Bemused or Confused, CHN looks at the week at a glance that concern the Chicago Blackhawks and the NHL. It might be connected. It may not. Regardless, it’s being talked about and CHN will weigh in, too. 

It’s been a busy week with the draft lottery, Connor Bedard is apparently Chicago-bound and boy, did it elicit some emotion. Not only in Chicago, but everywhere else in the hockey world.

One amusing theory was that the Draft was rigged in Chicago’s favor. The thinking goes it’s a big market, they’re in the midst of a long rebuild, and along comes a generational player in the mold of Connor McDavid.

For fans of teams like Ottawa, Detroit, Anaheim, and Columbus, it’s a sore subject. From Detroit’s perspective, in seven seasons of picking from the lottery, they never once moved up. They either held at their spot or fell. The latter influenced the NHL to alter the rules a bit.

The NHL responded by placing constraints on how far a team could jump and the number of pulls going from three to two. They even added that a team could only win twice in a five year period.

Could it be conspiratorial? Considering that Edmonton won back-to-back-to-back lotteries in the early 2010’s, it sure seems like much ado about nothing. It also seems unlikely the league so many find wholly incompetent could pull off such a conspiracy– without anyone spilling the beans.

Amused: Blackhawks, Bettman are Not Colluding

Bedard appears to be a once in a generation player and having a higher chance at him and not winning, well, stinks for teams that didn’t win.

I’d be upset, too–especially if I were in Anaheim or Columbus.

Looking back at the last couple of drafts that employed the new system sees that a team has hopped up in all three now. Seattle had a 10.5% of picking second in 2021 and that happened. New Jersey had an 8.5% chance last year of picking second, and they moved up, too.

Chicago’s odds of picking first overall were 11.5%, higher than both aforementioned teams. A lottery is exactly what it says it is, pure luck. Commissioner Gary Bettman went out of his way to be as transparent as he could. Reputable reporters were on hand. No matter, the theory of a fix will likely always be part of the Draft–regardless of who wins it.

Confused: What Happened to Momentum in the Playoffs?

In an NHL long ago, the playoffs were often marked by teams who would get on a roll and seize momentum. Those days, especially during this playoff season, seem a distant memory.

For one dominant victory, there seems the thundering loss. Look no further than the Edmonton-Vegas series, which has literally ping-ponged back and forth with lopsided scores into a 2-2 tie. Often, once a blowout occurred, the rout was on and a team would grab the chokehold and move on a game or two later.

Instead, all hell broke loose during Edmonton’s 4-1 win Wednesday night and frustration took hold.

On Sirius XM’s show the Power Play with Steve Kouleas, former bench boss Ken Hitchcock offered an opinion that the faster, more physical nature of the game may have something to do with it.

“The checking and the speed with the physicality is so high right now,” Hitchcock said on the Power Play. “I think whoever initiates and comes out and has the strongest gap completely takes over the game–and it takes over early. Like these games, the feeling is when you’re watching them is that they’re over in like ten minutes.

The reason they’re over is one team is dominating from a checking standpoint, and controlling the hockey game right off the bat. The other team has lost that fight and lost it early. Then the game just kinda gets away from everybody.”

Hitchcock admitted, however, that he really couldn’t explain what that suddenly has been the “it” factor in game outcomes.

It’s an interesting theory nonetheless. The Maple Leafs surrendered leads in each of the games they lost but in Game 4, they came out throwing their bodies around everywhere. Desperation hockey of course emits that. But even though Toronto out-hit Florida 63-49, they chased Florida until tying it late. The Maple Leafs season would end in overtime.

Physicality, Power Plays, or Just Downright Puzzling?

What about in the tightest series in the West? Edmonton did outhit Vegas 46-36 in Game 4. They also had seven power play opportunities to Vegas’ four. In Game 3, where Edmonton lost 5-1, they outhit Vegas at a 2:1 rate 50-25. They also only had two power play chances, and were the more undisciplined team. In Game 1, a 6-4 victory for Vegas? Edmonton wins the hitting contest again, 46-27. One less power play, but a two-goal loss.

Hitchcock may be onto something as the more physical team usually leads the way. In Edmonton’s case, however, they’ve been brutalizing Vegas at a nearly 2:1 clip for four games now. Yet it’s even at two.

In both Edmonton victories, the Oilers had a combined 13 power plays, converting four of them. Vegas also appeared unhinged in those games, racking up 70, and 64 minutes of penalties respectively.

Game 5 disproved the theory, though, with Edmonton taking the early lead only to fall 4-3. Both teams dished out 24 hits each. All three of Edmonton’s goals came on the man advantage. Vegas had seven power plays.

Perhaps physicality has something to do with it. But it sure seems in the case of this series, keeping Edmonton off of its power play is the best way to win.

Whatever it is, some series seem to have no rhyme or reason to explain the lack of momentum.

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