Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Anton Forsberg And J.F. Berube: What To Expect

By Colin Likas
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 28: The artwork on the mask of Chicago Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg (31) is shown during the NHL game between the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks, held on November 28, 2017, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 28: The artwork on the mask of Chicago Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg (31) is shown during the NHL game between the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks, held on November 28, 2017, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks will be without goaltender Corey Crawford‘s services on a week-to-week basis, meaning the team needs to get more familiar with Anton Forsberg and J.F. Berube

Essentially the worst-cast scenario for the 2017-18 Chicago Blackhawks came to fruition Friday when goaltender Corey Crawford was placed on injured reserve. The move seemingly came out of nowhere, but several fans on social media said they noticed Crow moving gingerly in Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Dallas.

The injury has been deemed a groin/leg ordeal, and Chicago Sun-Times beat writer Mark Lazerus said later Friday on Twitter that the Blackhawks are treating it as a week-to-week issue.

Well, at least it’s not long-term, in the Blackhawks’ estimation. But still, the potential for multiple weeks of no Crow, as the Blackhawks are amid a busy stretch, is obviously concerning.

Crow has easily been the team’s best player, dragging the Blackhawks to competency on several occasions this season. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear later that Crow had been playing through this injury for some time — as long as his body would allow — because the team would essentially be screwed without his .930/2.29 statline.

But we have to move forward, as the Blackhawks won’t stop playing and opposing teams won’t let up just because Crow is sidelined. Enter Anton Forsberg and J.F. Berube.

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Anton Forsberg

Forsberg is a bit more of a known commodity, but it’s not like he’s been getting so much ice time. There was even a back-to-back earlier this season on which Crow played both ends.

Forsberg’s first couple starts were of the solid-but-bad-luck variety. Since then, he’s mostly struggled dealing with the Blackhawks’ high-event style, which leads to tons of shots against most nights.

He’s started just five times and appeared in only seven of the Blackhawks’ 25 games, posting a .904/3.67 slashline. He’s faced 187 shots in 295 minutes, and while the sample size is obviously smaller, that means he’s handled 0.63 shots per minute versus the 0.55 shots per minute befalling Crow.

That’s really going to have to change for the Blackhawks. In the ilk of Scott Darling, Forsberg is one to make sprawling saves from left to right while using a large frame to knock down high stuff. But, also like Darling, a lot of his movement is compensation for poor positioning.

Now, like Darling in Chicago, Forsberg could play much better given more consistent ice time. And I think he’ll be given every opportunity with that. After all, he won the backup job over Berube, and he hasn’t been sent down in favor of Berube despite some struggles.

J.F. Berube

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Berube has been entirely average with the IceHogs this season, though that’s easily led to the best stats among the team’s goaltenders.

Berube has played in 12 games, posting a 6-6-0 record with a .913/2.54 slashline and two shutouts. He has seen 335 shots in 668 minutes of ice time, which comes out to a measly (by comparison) 0.49 shots faced per minute.

Berube is not a big dude at 6-foot-1, 177 pounds. He also doesn’t have much NHL experience, with 13 starts at age 26. When Berube was more up-and-coming, Hockey’s Future said his positioning and technique were strong points. That’s a nice offset, considering Forsberg has some struggles in this area.

What it means

Well, the Blackhawks are going to have to step up their game in a major way, first of all. While the offense has been finding its footing, the defense has still been suspect. That’s going to need some sort of positive boost very quickly.

Forsberg and Berube both have limited NHL experience and will probably be asked to carry Chicago through the month of December. We’re almost certainly going to see both of these guys immediately, as the Blackhawks have a back-to-back today and tomorrow with Dallas and Los Angeles.

This is a critical part of the schedule for the Blackhawks, who are right outside the playoffs right now. They have nicer looking matchups against Florida, Arizona, Buffalo and Vancouver this month, but also face the likes of Winnipeg, New Jersey, Washington, Minnesota and Edmonton. (Yes, I still consider Edmonton a challenge for the Blackhawks.)

On the flip side, these goaltenders will both have to step up in a major way as well. Forsberg is going to have to cool it on his floppiness in the crease and try to stay home a little more often. Berube will need to show that his previously-touted technique is worthy of NHL action.

Next: Blackhawks' Conference Losses May Prove Costly

So it’s a give-and-take thing with this goaltender platoon setup. How will the Blackhawks fare? We get our first look tonight against a team that scorched them for two periods Thursday.

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