The Chicago Blackhawks had a pretty underwhelming final game of the preseason.
Well, wasn’t that fun?! Ok, maybe not so much. The Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up their final preseason action last night with a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. It was the last chance for a number of the youngsters and bubble veterans to prove their worth. I’ll be honest; not much was proven in this one. Many of you were probably watching the Cubs game instead. With good reason (Cubs in 5-2, and up 2-0 in the series!). Well no worries, I’ve got you covered. Here is all you really need to know about last night’s Hawks game.
Rasmussen making a case for himself. I think this is probably the biggest takeaway from this game. Dennis Rasmussen has been on the bubble lately. He didn’t play against Detroit this past Tuesday, and has been outside the four-line rotation in practices ever since. Last night was his final chance to prove he should be the fourth line center over the competition.
Things were looking a little dicey for him early in the game. He lost a faceoff that led directly to the first goal for the St. Louis Blues. But he kept at it. He won another faceoff in the second frame, and was there to deflect the shot of van Riemsdyk for the only Hawk’s goal.
Rasmussen finished the night winning seven of his 12 faceoffs, for a 58% success rate on the dot. As mentioned above, he was credited a goal, and he clocked 12:54 minutes of ice time. This is actually quite a lot for a fourth liner. Q was definitely giving him a final shot, and he took it.
Although Nick Schmaltz had another solid game as well. He and Andrew Desjardins are two of the others that could potentially take that fourth center spot. But Coach Q mentioned in his presser that Desi hurt himself blocking a shot in the third period. Depending on the severity of his injury, this could bode well for Rasmussen.
Forsling struggles. While Rasmussen can call his final bid successful, the same cannot be said of Gustav Forsling. Coach Q has already hinted that Forsling has made the team, so maybe this is a moot point. But Forsling did not have a good night last night. He was especially exposed on Alex Pietrangelo’s game winning goal.
It sounds like the coaching staff wants to go with eight defensemen to start the season. If that’s the case, Forsling could definitely be in luck. The defensemen would include: Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell, Michal Kempny, Michal Rozsival, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Forsling.
Or would it? Along with being slow and out of position, Rozsival had two holding penalties called against him last night. TVR has looked bad the entire preseason. And remember, Viktor Svedberg and Ville Pokka could potentially still be in the mix. Who makes the opening night roster is still anyone’s guess. We’ll just have to leave it up to the experts.
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The youngsters need some help on offense. In the first few preseason games, the prospects couldn’t get much done in the way of offense. It wasn’t until Artemi Panarin scored off of a feed from Patrick Kane in the third exhibition game, that the goals started coming for everyone else. The youngsters struggled in much the same way last night. The only score was made by Dennis Rasmussen, who deflected a shot from Trevor van Riemsdyk.
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As it turns out, the forwards combined for only eight shots on goal last night. Now, I’m sure this will change once the starters get involved in the regular season. Fortunately, the youngsters are supplementary. The Chicago Blackhawks are not starting a team of only newbies. It will be a combination of both new players and starters once the regular season gets started. This will help generate more chances and more shots. But the long and the short of it is that the youngsters need some help in order to produce on offense. They might have some tools, but they don’t have the finish.
Defense is key. Along these same lines, the defense combined for ten shots on goal last night. Two more than the entire offense. This just goes to show how much the defense plays a part in creating offense in this system. The good news is that there is a lot of depth on the defense. Even without any of the starters, the Hawks defensive depth showed that they can contribute on the offensive side as well. This is a great sign for the Chicago Blackhawks moving forward.
Well, that about covers it, ladies and gentlemen. The preseason is over! Coach Quenneville indicated that the final 23-man roster should be released Monday. Then we will know who we will be watching come Wednesday night. This is when the Chicago Blackhawks take to the ice for their home opener against these same St. Louis Blues. Only three more days, people! In the meantime, enjoy your football. And Go Cubs!!!