It’s Hockey Day in Canada today, it’s also another day where the high temperature might end up being a lower number than the total goals scored in tonight’s Blackhawks-Blue Jackets game. Before I have to put on 18 layers of clothes to go shovel my driveway, I wanted to take a second to talk about a very real problem the Blackhawks are going to be facing soon.
With Adam Boqvist, Lucas Wallmark, Ryan Carpenter soon coming off the NHL COVID Protocol list, Chicago is going to be facing a tough lineup situation. Carpenter was playing really well for the Blackhawks before landing on the list. Wallmark and Boqvist had their moments, but weren’t in the spotlight much. But in the absences, there have been a number of players step up and produce. Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, and Brandon Hagel have all been stellar, as far as rookies go, in their spots.
So now what? Where do you fit everyone you need to be competitive and at the same time continue focusing on the development of your young players?
• I wrote about the possibility of Boqvist returning to game action and being sent down to the Rockford IceHogs. It might be unpopular with the 20-year-old defenseman, but it might be the best option for him at this moment to keep playing and be able to further fine-tune his game, in a less consequential environment.
• Wallmark returned to the ice yesterday at the Blackhawks’ optional morning skate. He, like Boqvist, tested positive for COVID-19 and had the full two-week course of the virus. Luckily, he and Boqvist’s cases were mild and they are expected to return to full health and return to the ice. I’m less-worried about where to fit Wallmark back into the lineup, because I see less of a role for him in the Blackhawks future plans.
Jeremy Colliton said Lucas Wallmark tested positive for COVID-19.
Like Adam Boqvist, it will take time for him to get conditioning back. #Blackhawks
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) February 12, 2021
• Carpenter will need to go back into the lineup and I would suspect that head coach Jeremy Colliton would pull Matthew Highmore out of the lineup to get him in there. With the Blackhawks having played 11 forwards and 7 defensemen in the past few games, maybe it’s a matter of sitting a defensemen and going back to the traditional 12/6 lineup. In that case, it would be either Madison Bowey or Lucas Carlsson heading out.
• Aside from the future lineup and roster drama, the saga that is Patrick Kane and Tommy Hawk’s puck toss has becoming riveting content!
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) February 12, 2021
• On the opposite end of the riveting content spectrum, we have Brandon Hagel mic’s up:
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 10, 2021
• He’s exciting to watch on the ice, but he’s not much of a talker.
• Hagel signed with the Blackhawks a few seasons ago after playing four years in the WHL with the Red Deer Rebels. Due to the pandemic, the WHL season has been on hiatus. But in January, the league announced it would play a 24-game schedule. Looking to keep all their players as safe as possible and to limit travel, Red Deer set up their players inside Westerner Park Centrium…
The Red Deer Rebels will be living at the rink this year for the 24-game WHL season….. pic.twitter.com/ZUiPSzHvpV
— World Hockey Report (@worldhockeyrpt) February 11, 2021
• The AirBnB reviews on this place should be WILD.
• A reminder, the Rockford IceHogs play their third game of the season tonight against the Iowa Wild. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. CT. Rockford is looking for their first win of the season after dropping the first two games of the year to the Chicago Wolves.
• Speaking of the AHL and things that you can’t do in that league, Boston’s Brad Marchand and New York’ Mika Zibanejad are weird dudes:
Zibanejad and Marchand both won't leave the ice after warmups. It's been five minutes.
— Mike Ashmore (@mashmore98) February 12, 2021
• A time-honored and weird tradition, or superstition, in hockey is being the last player to leave the ice after warmups. I get it, but I also don’t. Like, just go. Marchand and Zibanejad wouldn’t relent until rock-paper-scissors decided who was going to leave first and subsequently have a terrible game, or whatever they believe would happen.
Mika Zibanejad vs Brad Marchand epic standoff ends with Zibanejad winning rock-paper-scissors and Marchand having to leave the ice first pic.twitter.com/DHcFRw4Cev
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 13, 2021