The Blackhawks traveled to Milwaukee Sunday night and “hosted” the Minnesota Wild in a preseason game. Causing almost no offense to speak of, they watched the Wild pull away early in the third period – a script similar to Saturday night’s loss to Detroit.
I don’t care about winning or losing. We’ll get to the roster that ran at Milwaukee and some specific problem areas in a moment, but by and large, the Blackhawks’ veterans need to be healthy for the start of the regular season.
And after a couple of guys got banged up on Saturday Caleb Jones left the ice after a hard hit late in the third period with a slight shoulder ailment. We’ll keep an eye out for updates on his status in the future, but hopefully he’s doing well.
It appears there wasn’t much official scoring going on in Milwaukee based on the limited stats available across the NHL from play, but let’s just leave it at no good for the Blackhawks in most areas.
The first goal of the game came while the Blackhawks were on the power play. Unfortunately, it was scored by Connor Dewar of the Wild. And that was from a Max Domi Breath that opened the door for Dewar to go the other way and slam Peter Mrazek.
Chicago got a power play 83 seconds into the game, but Kale Howarth killed it himself with a penalty 56 seconds ahead. The Blackhawks had a nearly five full minute lead in the second period and managed just two total shots in the 20-minute period.
The redesigned PK was solid after night one against St. Louis. But the power play is experiencing some growing pains as the new coaching staff try to find a mix that works.
See, that’s likely to change a lot as the Blackhawks finalize the NHL roster and put together the actual roster that will work for the first and second units. They have given birth to some children – mostly Kevin Korchinski – Lots of run on the PP units through four games that won’t be in Denver to start the regular season. While replacing the speed and skill of some of the youngsters is easier said than done, the chemistry of the veterans should help.
- Speed, speed and… maybe a finish?
We talked about how easy it is to love the speed you see Andreas Athanasou. It’s pretty easy to see – in person or across the TV screen – that he’s one of the fastest skaters in the game; Domi argued he was the fastest in the league. And he had some really good chances on a line with Patrick Kane early in the preseason.
But he couldn’t convert anything. At least not yet.
GM Kyle Davidson brought him on to a one-year contract hoping his speed on the ice would easily pay off with a player of Kanes caliber, and a productive 3-4 months could make him a valuable trading asset. But if he can’t find a way to finish at least some of these nice chances he’s getting, he might…
Following Saturday night’s loss to Detroit, the Blackhawks are sending a number of players either to Rockford to begin their AHL training camp or back to their junior clubs. We’ll see how many of the players who were on the ice in Milwaukee are dropped off at O’Hare on their way home tonight.
The Blackhawks now have two preseason games left and their next one is in Minnesota on Thursday. Getting back to my first takeaway, it’s time to establish some continuity. Let’s see how a top PP device with Taylor Raddysh on the ice with Domi, Kane, Athanasiou u Seth Jones looks. Let’s put together some actual lines and defensive pairs and skate some real minutes together to build that chemistry before heading to Denver a week starting Monday.
There will be a few players who will stay because there are some legitimate fights for roster spots. Alex Vlasic, Alec Regula and Isaac Phillips appears to be in contention for maybe two spots on the blue line (maybe three with Caleb Jones’ injury status, who is now TBD). And Sunday afternoon’s news that Boris Katchouk will be out for 4-6 weeks with an ankle injury opens another door for Luke Reichel or, more likely, Josiah Slawin in a bottom six role.