What Have We Learned After Two Preseason Games?
We are two preseason games in for the Chicago Blackhawks and I'm as focused on the 0-2 record more than I am with the details of the roster.
What have we learned so far?
Well, I think the biggest thing that I've "learned" is that there are more questions still than answers with this team.
Let's start with the defence.
Connor Murphy is now out until December which is a considerable amount of time for a guy who was supposed to play in the top 4.
Henri Jokiharju had the spotlight pointed at him since prospect camp as a guy who could make this team and now with the Murphy (and Forsling) injury, it really opened a door for him.
However, Jokiharju is standing in the dark this morning and that spotlight is now pointed directly at Adam Boqvist.
It was announced after the game last night that Boqvist will not be heading to London today as their season begins in the OHL.
Wait? What? Does this mean that Boqvist has a possibility to make this team? "I'm not throwing that out of the realm of possibilities," Joel Quenneville said.
So either Adam has some serious confidence issues or he was bluffing us at the draft when he said his own game was 2-3 years away from the NHL. 2-3 away!
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out but in the next 4 games, the Hawks better have some more clarity on the backend.
Brandon Manning didn't get the glowing review he was hoping for after game #1 in the Indianhead. It was just one game, so I will wait to see how he looks after he settles in. Remember it took Connor Murphy half of a season to figure out the Hawks system. Coach Q doesn't have that luxury on waiting that long for Manning and any other newcomers to the backend, so those defenders better be working overtime with Q and Ulf leading up to the season opener.
Up front, it appears the Hawks are still a top 6 short. Based on Quenneville's comments and the look of the Kunitz-Toews-Debrincat line last night, Kunitz isn't the answer there. The problem is, if he isn't, who is?
Toews and Debincat will benefit the most from a bigger player and/or someone really strong along the boards and retrieving pucks. Who fits the bill projected to make the Hawks? Kunitz, Saad, Hayden, Martinsen or Kampf?
Speaking of Kampf, I'm loving this guy's game. He works so damn hard, is a strong forechecker and has a smart 2-way confidence about him. I would find a way to get him on a line with Anisimov as the Hawks will have issues with faceoffs again this year.
Nick Schmaltz was a pitiful 4/14 last night at the draw. I really hoped he would come in a new and improved man in that area. It is just one game, but we'll see how he performs the rest of the preseason.
Staying with the centres, I really like the way Luke Johnson plays hockey. He has future 3rd/4th centre written all over him. Heck, he was 6/8 at the dot last night too.
I think he ends up in Chicago at some point based on their centre depth, but he will really benefit from top 6 time in Rockford as well. Colliton really likes him.
Someone is going to get their first win tonight in the Hawks and Senators game as both teams as 0-2. We'll see who gets the nod for Chicago tonight but I would expect the Anisimov and Kruger lines to headline with Jokiharju, Gustafsson and Davidson on the backend.
This is the Hawks last road game before they hone in on the final roster over 3 home games. This is where you will start to see Keith, Seabrook and the entire team unfold. I'm curious to see what that looks like as I haven't heard of any outside help on the way to save the Hawks.
What have you seen out there?
See ya out there!