The season is still young but the Blackhawks enter today's matchup against the Red Wings tied with the Coyotes for dead last in the entire NHL. If it matters, the Hawks are slightly better with one extra goal for (9 vs 8) and 4 less goals allowed (21 vs 25).
After today, the Hawks are off for a few days before having 3 games in 4 days ending the homestand on Wednesday hosting the Maple Leafs then starting a road trip in Raleigh and St. Louis to take on the Hurricanes and Blues to cap off the league's opening month.
It's obviously not good if Patrick Kane isn't cleared to play by this evening yet sitting out a spell could be a blessing in disguise given he's nursing an undisclosed injury sustained almost a year ago. Wouldn't it be good to reach full recovery and be 100% for the team?
In the event that Erik Gustafsson isn't ready by puck drop, the Hawks would only have 5 healthy defensemen on the roster. It wouldn't be surprising then if a D prospect from the IceHogs is called up in short order. The leading candidates would be Ian Mitchell and Jakub Galvas.
During this weekend's mini series versus the Iowa Wild, Mitchell ended up being the Hogs best defender. He made simple, smart plays due to better defensive reads and ability to pin the opponent. Also, he's showing marked improvement with when he makes offensive pinches.
Not too far off from Mitchell is Galvas who maintains tight gaps sticking to his man like a fly on manure but can get lured away from the high danger areas around his net in order to chase the puck carrier. Regardless, he's fearless crashing tough areas at both ends.
As for Ryan Carpenter, he's the least of Chicago's worries as the 4th line can easily and arguably should be filled by a trio of Jujhar Khaira, MacKenzie Entwistle, Adam Gaudette, and the recently recalled Reese Johnson. Once healthy, Mike Hardman is a candidate, too.
If the goal is to inject relentless energy, abrasive grit, and impeccable compete level, Johnson is an excellent recall choice as an option for the bottom 6 in general and 4th line in particular. He wins draws, goes in hard on the forecheck, and hustles on the backcheck.
One of the more impressive prospects in training camp, Johnson likely won't be a long-term fixture on the Hawks yet he does what he's assigned to do and plays that role to a T. He can score backbreaking goals while also run his mouth to get under the opponent's skin.
IceHogs: Friday Game Summary
Nylander - Reichel - Connolly
McLaughlin - Slavin - Teply
Pour - Johnson - Barratt
Altybarmakian - G Mitchell - Osipov
Stanton - I Mitchell
Watson - Phillips
Galvas - Krutil
1st Goal (1-0): Pour (Johnson, Phillips)
2nd Goal (1-1): Dewar (Rau, Ottenbreit)
3rd Goal (2-1): Johnson (Pour, Watson)
4th Goal (2-2): Swaney (Somerby, Cramarossa)
5th Goal (2-3): Swaney (Czuczman, Cramarossa)
6th Goal (3-3): Reichel (Barratt, Connolly) PP
7th Goal (3-4): Giroux (Sucese, Cramarossa)
8th Goal (3-5): Chaffee (Rau, Dewar)
9th Goal (3-6): Giroux (Rau, Beckman)
SOG For/Against: 19/53
Thoughts & Notes
* Bad blood between these division rivals picked up where last season left off including a standoff near center ice after the final buzzer featuring stare downs and tussles.
* Chad Krys remained out with a leg injury and didn't travel with the team.
* Arvid Soderblom let in a soft goal and had difficulty tracking several redirected pucks but still made 47 saves after being peppered with 53 shots.
* Lukas Reichel continued to put his superb vision on display as he can thread the needle with surgical passes even with little time and space.
* Alex Nylander played with more pace and hustle including an excellent backcheck on a turnover by a teammate that could have led to an Iowa breakaway but his giddyup to catch up with the attacker allowed him to steal the puck from behind.
Linemates Jakub Pour and Johnson were strong on the forecheck and with cycling as they each picked up a goal and an assist.
Andrei Altybarmakian showed his top flight speed getting up and down the ice in a hurry to keep up with plays, hunt down pucks, and create separation in all zones.
IceHogs: Saturday Game Summary
Nylander - Reichel - Connolly
Morrison - Slavin - Busdeker
Pour - McLaughlin - Altybarmakian
Barratt - G Mitchell - Osipov
Phillips - I Mitchell
Stanton - Beaudin
Watson - Galvas
1st Goal (0-1): Swaney (Chaffee, Beckman) PP
2nd Goal (0-2): Swaney (McLeod, Ottenbreit) SH
3rd Goal (0-3): Shaw (Bitten)
4th Goal (1-3): Nylander (Reichel)
5th Goal (1-4): Rau (Swaney, Shaw) PP
6th Goal (2-4): Pour (Altybarmakian, McLaughlin)
7th Goal (2-5): Beckman (Hicketts, Addison)
SOG For/Against: 23/31
Thoughts & Notes
* While he didn't play on Friday but did last night, Nicolas Beaudin failed to play with pace as he merely looks slow and lazy; he also needs to improve at keeping pucks in when they're cleared by the other team in his offensive zone.
* Isaak Phillips has proven to be quite good at maintaining tight gaps especially using his long reach to his advantage but he still needs to gain more strength as he's easy to push away.
* Nylander continued to demonstrate that he definitely has high skill and just needs to apply himself consistently; if the Hawks let him gain more confidence in the AHL, they could eventually have a bonafide top 6 winger in him.
* D.J. Busdeker made his season debut and exhibited an intensity and nose-over-puck mentality reminiscent of Brandon Hagel.
* Evan Barratt left the game in the 3rd period after suffering an injury; his status is unknown.
See you on the boards!