Last night, the Chicago Blackhawks saw two defensemen go down in Trevor van Riemsdyk and Trevor Daley. While van Riemsdyk later returned to the game, Daley was clearly in duress after his head and the knee of Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn collided in a freak accident. While a stretcher was called onto the ice, Daley decided to skate off under his own power, but he clearly wasn’t all there.
You think this would indicate a potential call-up from Rockford. And the Blackhawks gave us that today … but not the one we might’ve been expecting.
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While Viktor Svedberg, Erik Gustafsson and Ville Pokka probably had their phones close by, it was actually center Dennis Rasmussen who got the call Monday, and fellow center Tanner Kero saw his first NHL stint end in the process.
The Blackhawks may be going back to their “flavor of the week” approach they used earlier in the season in calling up a new IceHog seemingly every week. That’s how Kero got his shot, which lasted longer than some might have expected. And it’s how Rasmussen is getting his first NHL shot as well.
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Rasmussen has the same major stats as Bryan Bickell had with the IceHogs, though in 10 more games. In 22 outings this season, Rasmussen has seven goals and seven assists to go along with 16 penalty minutes and a minus-2 rating. That rating is significant because a majority of the IceHogs’ top players have a positive rating. Rasmussen is also one of their top players, so the negative rating would indicate he’s used in defensive scenarios (think Niklas Hjalmarsson or Marcus Kruger). Joel Quenneville would obviously be attracted to that, as he could utilize Rasmussen as a third- or fourth-line center.
But beyond that, Rasmussen has also taken 48 shots on goal in the AHL season, tied for third on the team. Kero tried to get the puck to the net when he could, but it wasn’t always easy. The hope with Rasmussen may be that he can generate some more bottom-six scoring, something the Blackhawks have been sorely lacking and to which Kero could hardly contribute.
Kero’s first run with the big club saw him utilized in more than just 5-on-5 situations, which surprised me. He saw a fair amount of penalty kill time, which was nice to see when you consider Q’s trust issues with some youngsters. Kero played in 17 games, tallying a goal and two assists along with a minus-2 rating. He didn’t necessarily do anything wrong or poorly with the Blackhawks, but he couldn’t provide that bottom-six offensive spark they were and still are seeking.
Hopefully, Rasmussen simply slots in for Kero in last night’s lineup and we don’t see any crazy moves involving Andrew Shaw at center or Brandon Mashinter outside the pressbox. (If Marko Dano comes back in, though, I won’t complain). This will be Rasmussen’s first NHL experience, and the hope is Q just lets him go out and do his thing, even if it’s for only 10 minutes a night.
There is still the issue of the defensive unit, which may still need a call-up for Tuesday’s game against Nashville. If Daley can’t go Tuesday but figures to only be out a brief period, Q may bite the bullet and let David Rundblad back in the lineup. If it looks like Daley will be out awhile, or if van Riemsdyk is feeling ill effects of his shot block yesterday (which may have hit the same knee cap a shot block shattered in 2014), a call-up seems likely. In the latter case, I feel like Gustafsson would get the first nod, as he seemed very impressive in his short time with the Blackhawks earlier this season. This should play out later today or early tomorrow.