Chicago Blackhawks defenseman, Connor Murphy, has been placed on Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR).
After a solid first two periods, defensively, Connor Murphy was mysteriously not on the Chicago Blackhawks bench to start the third period against the Golden Knights. Without Murphy in the lineup, the Blackhawks had to use just five defenseman and ended up forfeiting their one goal lead in the third period. Coach Jeremy Colliton revealed in the post game conference that Murphy left due to a groin injury.
Connor Murphy’s absence will be a big loss for the Blackhawks, as the defensive group has looked much improved after Murphy jumped up to the first line with Duncan Keith, and Erik Gustafsson moved down to the third pairing with Calvin de Haan. Murphy has had a solid 55.25% Corsi so far this season and was starting to develop nice chemistry with Keith.
With Murphy sidelined for a minimum of ten games on LTIR, Rockford IceHogs’ defenseman, Dennis Gilbert, was recalled by the Blackhawks. Given the defense-first style of play from Murphy, Gilbert is the player in the Blackhawks’ system who can best fill that role. Like Murphy, Gilbert is a big body that plays a solid defensive game, while adding an extra level of physicality.
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Defenseman, Slater Koekkoek, has been a healthy scratch after only playing two games with the Blackhawks this season, but expect him to get the first crack in the lineup on Thursday, 10/24. Koekkoek has a goal differential of -3 in his 2 games, so he will need to improve his defensive play or Gilbert may end up seeing more ice time while Murphy is out.
Collition may also move Gustafsson back up to the top pairing with Keith, so expect the defensive pairings to look something like this:
Murphy will be a big loss for the Chicago Blackhawks, who were starting to find their groove defensively. We will get to see who steps in to take Murphy’s spot when the ‘Hawks take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, October 24th.