Bad games will happen, these are the 2019-20 Blackhawks
Even though the numbers and eye test will tell you that the Blackhawks were outplayed by the Hurricanes for 40+ minutes on Tuesday, I wasn’t upset by the loss.
To most, the Hawks have just recently graduated from dumpster-fire to bubble playoff team. This is due to their recent play which included a 4-game winning streak that they help up until Tuesday’s loss.
These games are going to happen. That’s what being a bubble team means. You win some… you lose some.
Robin Lehner was good again (what’s new?) but unfortunately, the Hawks didn’t turn it on until mid-way through the 3rd period.
They have a tough opponent on Thursday in the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning have lost their last 2 games to Central Division foes (Winnipeg and St. Louis) in the last week and might be without sniper Nikita Kucherov – who left Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed injury.
Like the Blackhawks, TB got off to a slow start but have been figuring it out over the last month or so.
They are 6th in the Atlantic but are 13th in the league in GF and 8th in GA. The Lightning are an obviously talented team and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Will Jeremy Colliton keep the same lineup?
He doesn’t have much of a choice with the players he has to choose from. Drak Caggiula is still in concussion protocol – you’ll recall he was out for a while last year with a concussion as well.
Andrew Shaw wasn’t available for practice on Wednesday but should be good to go for Thursday’s mathcup vs. TB. If not, Colliton said he would dress Slater Koekkoek and go with 7 D.
If Caggiula cannot go by the weekend, the Hawks will likely call someone up for their trip to Dallas.
My guess is it would be between Anton Wedin or Dylan Sikura.
Kane, Toews and Co. won’t be worrying about this as their focus will be on getting a “W” on Thursday.
Colliton might mix up the lines but he shouldn’t tweak too much as he had some magic going there with his lines/pairings.
I would call for – just like Scott Powers suggested – that Colliton reunite Keith and Murphy on the top pairing. Gustafsson is going offensively, but pair him with Maatta and give those guys more o-zone starts.
Lastly, I wanted to touch on Kris Versteeg’s recent news.
He and the Rockford IceHogs have mutually agreed to part ways. I guess it wasn’t in Steegers’ heart to mentor these guys at this stage in his career.
Instead, he’s opting to join his borther in Slovakia to finish off his playing days.
Here’s the note he shared with the fans:
I wouldn’t be surprised to see this guy join the Chicago organization in a scouting or coaching capacity in the future.
All the best, Kris!
EDIT: Blackhawks make minor league trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins:
Cramarossa seems like a good addition to come in to fill some of the veteran void left by Versteeg's departure. The 'Hogs are very young and the 27-year old Cramarossa will be welcomed by Derek King and the rest of the players.
Knott never panned out and hopefully he can take his game to the next level in the Pittsburgh organization.
See ya out there!