The injury bug has been a major factor for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019-20.
The season has already been filled with high-highs and low-lows. After an amazing stretch to start the month of November, the Chicago Blackhawks would end the month on a sputtering sour note.
Two blow out losses to the Colorado Avalance would close out what was looking like a positive step for the Blackhawks. Chicago would see its November record fall to 6-5-3.
While it was a marked improvement over their October, where they were a lowly 3-6-3, they cannot hope to move up the standings with these kind of subtle improvements in their record. With the latest injury news, December could be another rough month in the making.
Dylan Strome and Drake Caggiula returned to practice yesterday, which is good, but both are returning from the concussion protocol. You have to wonder if there will be any lingering effects from their concussions. While the Blackhawks are getting Strome and Caggiula back, Duncan Keith is also out with a groin injury.
These kinds of developments on the injury front are concerning not only because you want the players to be healthy, but the Blackhawks have a stretch of difficult games coming up. The injuries don’t help the struggling Blackhawks’ cause.
With two more games against the Avalanche on the slate, the Stanley Cup runner-up in the Boston Bruins, and the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues twice during the month of December.
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The Blackhawks will need to take a step in December, even though they look to be banged up. This means the players are going to need to step up.
The likes of Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta, and Connor Murphy are going to be expected to handle the load, with Keith on the mend, and hope that Jonathan Toews shows up at some point this season. The Blackhawks will need Toews to shoulder some of the offensive load that Patrick Kane has carried most of the season.
Young guys like Alexander Nylander, Kirby Dach, and Dominik Kubalik are going to need to evolve their game further with the likes of Strome and Shaw still making their way back. Taking on both more offensive and defensive responsibility, and also, proving that they are quality depth that the Chicago Blackhawks so desperately need.
Alex DeBrincat is going to need to figure out how to score again, as he has been snake bitten as of late with no goals in his last 11 games. We all know that DeBrincat has been a streaky scorer in the NHL, but he is going to need to find a way to bring that consistency to a lineup that is desperate for a consistent weapon beyond Kane.
It was nice to see DeBrincat show a bit of that feistiness to his game when he took on Sam Girard in a cruiserweight fight on Saturday night. However, he is going to need to produce for the Blackhawks to improve in the standings.
Of course we all know DeBrincat is a talented scorer, but in the wake of the lineup being decimated by injury, he is someone that needs to be counted on night in and night out. Now, more than ever.
While it is unclear what the status Strome, Keith, Shaw, and Lehner are going forward, it is important that during this December stretch of games that the Chicago Blackhawks’ depth players show up. If they don’t, it will be yet another postseason of golfing and watching the playoffs from their couches.