The city of Chicago (and beyond) appears to be all about the Chicago Cubs right now, this blogger included. But we can’t forget about our defending NHL champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. With three off days between the Blackhawks’ third and fourth games of the season, there hasn’t been a whole lot to talk about, especially since the Blackhawks are off to a fine start.
Surely there are some things to talk about, though, right? Right. Here are some tidbits to help get you through another Blackhawks-less day.
— The starting goaltenders have reportedly been determined for the Blackhawks’ next two games, on the road at Philadelphia and Washington on Wednesday and Thursday. Corey Crawford will get the call against the inferior Flyers, while Scott Darling will see how he stacks up against the Capitals, a team highly rated by many hockey observers heading into the season.
While this may seem like a reverse of what we could’ve expected, it probably isn’t a huge deal that the starter is facing the weaker team. If Crawford doesn’t play tomorrow, that would be four consecutive days of rest for a guy who you’d like to keep sharp. By the same token, throwing Crow out against the Flyers should make his workload relatively light. Philly has a whopping two goals in its first three games and isn’t exactly a possession monster (though their team Corsi-for is a bit above that of the Blackhawks at the moment … small sample size be damned), so that could be some of Joel Quenneville‘s thinking.
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Plus, he gets to test Darling against a team that is supposed to be among the best in the league. Washington is the only team to still have just one game played thus far (the Caps host upstart San Jose tonight), so we really haven’t seen enough to decide whether or not they’re living up to the hype.
— Defenseman Michal Rozsival was spotted skating at morning practice today, a good sign for those who have to keep a portable toilet or garbage can nearby when they see some of the current blue-line activity for the Blackhawks. We never thought having Rozsival back on the ice might be an upgrade, but with still-learning youngsters in Trevor van Riemsdyk and Viktor Svedberg, as well as a flighty Trevor Daley and a permanently doghoused David Rundblad, currently existing as options 4-6, Rozsival’s basic style may be just what the Blackhawks need. Or, he could get pantsed on his first shift back and make us pine for the days of Chris Campoli. Hard to tell.
There is no indication on when specifically Rozsival might be back, but Q was optimistic earlier this week.
— Would you like to be the next left wing on the Chicago Blackhawks’ top line? Now you can be! Well, maybe not you specifically, but a whole host of Blackhawks are trying to nail down that spot.
Teuvo Teravainen, Andrew Shaw and Ryan Garbutt have taken their shot at playing alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, but Q says the spot is “flexible” and that guys could rotate in and out. In the Blackhawks’ most-recent game, a win against the New York Islanders on Saturday, Garbutt skated alongside Toews and Hossa. While the trio didn’t record a point, it did have 10 shots on goal, so it certainly wasn’t a lack of effort that led to the no-points night.
Personally, I’m fine with Garbutt on the top line. If Q wants to swap Garbutt and Shaw between that spot and a fourth-line wing spot, I think that’ll work pretty well. While Teuvo is obviously the most-skilled choice to go alongside the captain and Hossa, he’s probably better served making the Blackhawks’ third line something more than a pylon. Without Teuvo centering the third line, it’s pretty much a mish-mash quasi-checking line. Anyone who has watched previous Blackhawks success knows having three lines capable of scoring is key to winning hockey games.
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