Last night the Chicago Blackhawks lost their second preseason game 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. The Blackhawks drop to 0-2 during preseason play and hope to turn things around tonight against the Ottawa Senators. Here’s my five thoughts following the game last night.
No. 5: That’s hockey baby!
Last night we got to see Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Nick Schmaltz and more take the ice for the first time this preseason. This preseason game was far more entertaining than the last as we saw legitimate first and second lines take the ice. This was much different than the game before where Artem Anisimov and Marcus Kruger were our top centers.
No. 4) First line looked mediocre
Now I know we’ve all thought this before, but I wasn’t overly impressed by the Toews line. The Chicago Blackhawks have put Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat and Chris Kunitz on the top line together during training camp and this was our first look at them.
It was a tough start as they didn’t look to be on the same page multiple times. For example, a promising two-on-one rush came up empty as DeBrincat, Kunitz and Toews all managed to miss each other in a matter of seconds. That said, they didn’t give up any major scoring chances and generated a couple of offensive opportunities of their own.
Overall, I’d like to see more out of a first line and it should be interesting to see how Kunitz performs with these two in future games.
No. 3) “That line can be as good as they want to be”
Those are coach Joel Quenneville’s words on the Saad-Schmaltz-Kane line. This group impressed in a major way during their preseason debut.
Take a look for yourself here.
The play here is a perfect example of all of their talents at work. Schmaltz and Kane are both outstanding east-west players while Saad has speed and the ability to play a dynamic north-south game.
I’ll go ahead and let Kane break it down for you:
"“Throughout my career, I’ve played more of the east-west game with a winger, and now with (Schmaltz) pushing that middle of the ice with so much speed, you know how to play a little bit off that. If that ‘D’ wants to stand up on me, I can slip it through to (Schmaltz) with speed,” Kane said. If the ‘D’ wants to back off, that obviously gives me more time and space. We’ll see how it works. Schmaltzy’s a guy that I really think I can develop that chemistry with and hopefully create something special.”"
On the topic of Saad, Kane thinks the two should have no issue rekindling the success they shared in the past.
"“I think when you play with someone before and you’ve had success, you know how to recapture that a little bit easier than with someone who’s new to the team or new to the system or new to the way you play. Sometimes it’s nice to just go back and see what worked back then. But I think both of us working together, especially with his speed, the way he plays the game, the way he goes to the net, it can really be a good fit for the way me and Schmaltzy play.”"
Clearly, they had no issue putting things together on Thursday night. Hopefully this isn’t the last time we watch a beautiful play like that put together by this trio.
No. 4) London calling?
Last night, Adam Boqvist looked absolutely fantastic on the ice. Personally, I think Boqvist looked like the Chicago Blackhawks’ best defenseman during the entirety of the game. That said, his only real competition was Brandon Manning who could be playing his way out of the six-man defensive group.
Here’s a clip of one of Boqvist’s (or, apparently, “our beautiful boy”‘s) better defensive plays.
Andreas Athanasiou is one of the fastest skaters in the league however Boqvist handled him easily.
Boqvist, or Bokie, as deemed by Brent Seabrook, skates with Athanasiou and turns once he enters the Hawks zone. Using his body position and smooth footwork he deters Andreas out of a dangerous scoring area and then takes the puck form him and turns it up ice.
It was, well, pretty darn impressive.
After last night, Adam Boqvist was supposed to be on his way to London, Ontario to join the London Knights for their first game of the regular season.
Coach Q had other plans. Instead, the Chicago Blackhawks will be keeping him to continue playing with the team through training camp.
Boqvist initially said he’d anticipate taking two or three years to make it to the NHL, however his play as of late seems to point otherwise. There’s a very real chance that Boqvist could make the team out of camp as he could play nine NHL games before the first year of his entry-level contract actually goes into effect. When Q was asked about it he nearly cracked a smile, saying “I’m not throwing that out of the realm of possibilities.”
No. 1) The kids are alright
Aside from being a great song by one of the greatest rock bands in the world (The Who), this statement rings true about this current Blackhawks team. DeBrincat looked more confident in his play than he did last season and Schmaltz looks amazing playing alongside Kane and Saad.
Additionally, first round draft pick Nicolas Beaudin looked smart and showed himself to be a good skater. He played well offensively as well and looks to be a key defensive piece in the future.
Furthermore, forward Luke Johnson didn’t do anything special however he made a lot of smart plays with the puck. His name came up a lot last night and he too looks as if he could be a piece in the future.
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Lastly, MacKenzie Entwistle had an absolute beauty of a snipe to score his first goal.
Entwistle was involved in the Marian Hossa trade and looks to be a solid return for the Blackhawks in the future.