Four days ago the Blackhawks had two players put on the COVID-19 protocol list, Adam Boqvist, and Alex DeBrincat. Then right after, Lucas Wallmark was added to that same list. Chicago was already down several players, and being down three more is hurting the already thin lineup.
At this point, the team has played three games, but the impact on the Chicago Blackhawks is obvious. While it’s true that every team in the NHL is dealing with this, the impact on Chicago was immediate.
The two close games in Nashville were evidence, and the trend continued against Columbus. They were all tight back-and-forth games that were actually winnable for Chicago. What does it mean with these players out of the lineup?
Without Alex DeBrincat, Chicago lost a key offensive weapon. He’d been playing well, and now he’ll be gone for probably another two weeks. DeBrincat’s loss isn’t just about his production. If he’s not with the team, it means the opponents have one less goal-scorer to worry about. That means teams can double down on Kane safe in the knowledge that there aren’t many other effective offensively-minded players on Chicago’s bench to worry about.
The Blackhawks are missing many key players from their lineup.
The loss of Boqvist is more about the player than the team. This is an important developmental season for the young defenseman. Any time out for Boqvist is time lost for him. People can forgive a team a losing season if they think it will pay off later on.
That’s what this season is for Chicago, and Boqvist would have benefitted from the game time. He also is an offensively-minded defenseman, and losing him takes away one more player for Chicago to get the puck to the net.
Wallmark is a useful player for the team, but most importantly, he’s an effective vet. His absence depletes the team’s forward depth, especially defensively. That might sound odd, but with him out, Colliton opted to dress seven defensemen, rather than bring in another forward.
Sure, the team could have dressed Brandon Pirri or Mathew Highmore, but how much difference would adding one of those two forwards have made? Why not give Beaudin another game if the forwards won’t be able to offer much?
Chicago doesn’t really have much wiggle room strategically. Losing three players that were expected to be playing every night is a significant blow to a team that was already struggling. Perhaps the worst part about this is that since those players were removed from the lineup Chicago has lost three games by a single goal.
Even if Chicago isn’t a world-beater this year, you can’t help but wonder if the Blackhawks could have won at least one of them had those missing players been on the ice.