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Chicago Blackhawks, Red Wings Kick Off Preseason

By Colin Likas
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Thank goodness we’re getting back to hockey, right Chicago Blackhawks fans?

After Monday’s Training Camp Festival game, which was attended by Blackhawk Up’s Sean Fitzgerald, the Blackhawks today will host the rival Detroit Red Wings in the preseason opener for both sides. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m., and the game can be seen on WGN and heard on WGN Radio 720-AM.

You probably won’t be surprised to know neither team is sending out its regular starting lineup for tonight’s tilt at the United Center. A look at the teams’ rosters, starting with that of the Blackhawks:

Forwards: Andrew Desjardins, Artem Anisimov, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Garbutt, Daniel Paille, Kyle Baun, Marko Dano, Ryan Haggerty, Dennis Rasmussen, Marian Hossa, Teuvo Teravainen, Patrick Kane

Defensemen: David Rundblad, Trevor Daley, Brent Seabrook, Jan Hejda, Viktor Svedberg, Lubomir Visnovsky

Goaltenders: Scott Darling, Mark Visentin

Looking a little deeper, we have potential forward lines for tonight, courtesy the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus:

  • Dano-Toews-Hossa
  • Teravainen-Anisimov-Kane
  • Paille-Rasmussen-Haggerty
  • Garbutt-Desjardins-Baun

Now, on to the Red Wings’ roster/lineup for tonight’s action:

Forwards

Andy MieleRiley SheahanLuke Glendening

Anthony Mantha-Dylan Larkin-Teemu Pulkkinen

Drew MillerJoakim AnderssonLandon Ferraro

Tyler Bertuzzi-Andreas Athanasiou-Evgeny Svechnikov

Defensemen

Brendan SmithAlexey Marchenko

Brian LashoffRyan Sproul

Xavier Ouellet-Nick Jensen

Goaltenders

Jimmy Howard

Tom McCollum

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I can’t even begin to tell you how many Red Wings players I had to Google off the above lineup card. As you can see, the Wings are bringing a lot of guys who didn’t finish the 2014-15 season on the big-league roster. It’s exactly what you’d expect to see in a preseason game. What is interesting about Detroit’s lineup, however, is that Howard is in town. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it’s curious that he’s suiting up instead of Petr Mrazek as the two do battle for the starting job.

But let’s talk about the Blackhawks. They’re dressing a fair number of regulars and some guys who are looking to crack the roster. Three professional tryout contract holders — Paille, Hejda and Visnovsky — will all skate tonight, trying to prove to Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville that the Blackhawks should at least keep them around in Rockford.

Let’s take a look at three Blackhawks to watch tonight at the Madhouse on Madison:

Jun 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) controls the puck ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) in the second period in game three of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Teuvo Teravainen

It looks like Teuvo will get an early look back at left wing to start this preseason slate. Immediately after today’s morning skate, Quenneville reiterated that Teuvo is still slotted in a center position for the regular season.

Teuvo has reportedly put on about 10 pounds of weight during the short offseason, so it’ll be interesting to see how he moves on the ice and how he fares in battles for the puck. While you may not think we can get a good read on that in a preseason game, you have to remember these outings feature many players who are fighting for a spot on a big-league roster. It’s not the regular season or postseason, but it counts for something.

It’ll also be interesting to see how Teuvo fares alongside Anisimov and Kane. The wing duo of Teuvo and Kane is potentially lethal with all of the playmaking abilities those two posses. Of course, Teuvo saw a lot of Artemi Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov in training camp, but alongside Anisimov and Kane may be a second fantastic spot to place the young Finn.

Sep 29, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Ryan Haggerty (39) shoots during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. New York Rangers won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Haggerty

As was previously discussed on Blackhawk Up, Haggerty has impressed the Blackhawks brass since being acquired in a draft-time trade with the New York Rangers. The forward is on a starting line tonight with two guys who are also trying to show they belong with the Blackhawks, so we can expect the trio to put on a show.

Regarding the starting lines: Being that this is a preseason game, it’s unlikely all four lines will stay together that way the entire game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see players mixed and matched as the game wears on. Haggerty could have the opportunity to play on a wing next to Toews or Anisimov later in the night, and both centers would likely make Haggerty look even better to Q and others (simply because the two can make those around them better).

Haggerty appears to be one of those guys who will be among the last ones either assigned to the AHL or given a roster spot with the Blackhawks, so every preseason game matters for him. Expect him to fly out of the gates and make an impression.

Mar 23, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda (8) skates against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Jan Hejda and Lubomir Visnovsky

Okay, I cheated a bit on the “three players” requirement. But it’s my own requirement, so I’m not hurting anyone.

At 37 and 39 years of age, respectively, Hejda and Visnovsky are the “gray-haired guys” on the bench. They’re both on PTO deals, and you know they both want to stick around as the sixth or seventh defenseman for a Chicago team that has aspirations of successfully defending its Stanley Cup. Considering the Wings will have a good amount of youth on the ice tonight, as well as a fair number of players looking to show they belong in Detroit to start 2015-16, Hejda and Visnovsky will face a quick test.

Can these two still hang with younger, speedier skaters? Are their decision-making abilities still sound? Can they just be thrown off pucks by the young bulls, or are they willing to battle as long as necessary? Since the two are on PTOs, the preseason is our best opportunity to have those questions answered. Remember, these two are in a similar position to a lot of the younger guys on both sides: There’s no guaranteed job for Hejda or Visnovsky at the big-league level this season. So it’ll be interesting to see what a mix of competitive fire and veteran skill might show us. While the Blackhawks currently have seven defensemen signed for this upcoming season, that doesn’t mean those ranks are set in stone.

Game prediction: It is a preseason game with a lot of lesser-known elements, so this could really go any way. And the result on the scoreboard ultimately doesn’t matter, though the coaches are certainly going to be watching how those numbers got there. I’ll say the Blackhawks earn a 3-2 victory, with Darling and Visentin each allowing a marker in split time in net, and Dano, Kane and Daley cracking the scoresheet. Why not?

Next: Three Things To Watch For This Preseason

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