Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks’ Michal Kempny Returns, Corey Crawford Skates

By Colin Likas
Nov 5, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Kempny (6) skates against the Dallas Stars during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks defeat the Stars 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Kempny (6) skates against the Dallas Stars during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks defeat the Stars 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks defense will have a new look tonight against the New York Islanders

In recent games, the Chicago Blackhawks have been rolling with a consistent stable of five defensemen and rotating guys in the No. 6 role. The consistent five have been Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook (when healthy), Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brian Campbell and Trevor van Riemsdyk.

Beyond those five, the final spot has gone to one of Michal Rozsival, Gustav Forsling and Michal Kempny. But one of those three has not seen a lot of time, and that’d be Kempny.

When Seabrook was briefly out due to injury, Rozsival and Forsling slotted in while Kempny sat. It was strange, because Kempny has actually looked really good in his own end. He’s also tried to pitch in on offense, just without much success.

It appears Kempny will get another shot to impress coach Joel Quenneville tonight when the Blackhawks visit the New York Islanders. Rozsival and Forsling project as scratches, as they were the last two defensemen on the ice for today’s morning skate.

I’m not sure what Kempny can do better to earn a spot in the lineup full time. Van Riemsdyk has been surprisingly decent in the last three games, even notching his first goal of the season Tuesday. If he can continue to play well, I don’t have a problem leaving him in the lineup.

However, it seems that TVR’s inclusion has burned Kempny, who really does need to be in the lineup. He looked solid alongside Seabrook earlier in the season, as those two were easily the best defensive pairing on the ice when TVR was hurt.

Kempny just has to stick to his game and not take his recent benchings as a sign he’s not performing well. Q works in mysterious ways at times, and hopefully he doesn’t lose the KHLer with his lineup choices.

Good news on the goaltending front

The only guy currently on the injury list is Corey Crawford, who remains out after his appendectomy on Dec. 3. He was project to miss up to three weeks. We’re getting close to two weeks now, so it’s a good sign Crow skated yesterday.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reported Crow skated Wednesday for the first time since his procedure. He didn’t face any shots, but he apparently looked good on the ice.

Scott Darling has looked great filling in for Crow, but it’ll still be nice to see the incumbent starter back in the net. Darling will probably get a bit more of a run for the first few weeks after Crow returns, just to ease Crow back into the net and because Darling has been really good.

Next: Blackhawks Eye On The Enemy: New York Islanders

Besides that, everything is all systems go for the Chicago Blackhawks. They carry 42 points, most in the Western Conference and tied for second-most in the league with Montreal (Pittsburgh has 43). They’ll look to add to the six-point lead they hold over St. Louis in the Central Division.

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