Training Camp Cuts, IceHogs Lose in Overtime, Chicago's Final Preseason Game, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Training Camp Cuts, IceHogs Lose in Overtime, Chicago’s Final Preseason Game, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

We’ve reached the final weekend before the NHL regular season begins for the 2021-22 campaign. We did it! With just one more preseason game to play tonight for the Blackhawks against the Wild, Chicago still has a number of difficult roster decisions to make prior to Monday, when opening night rosters need to be finalized. I’m fascinated to see how things shake out. As I’m sure you are too.

•   The correct answer is “Yes.”

•   Good to know just over 2,000 people are also ready for hockey to be here. Going to need more than that to continue the Blackhawks’ sellout streak at the United Center.

•   Friday’s practice wasn’t without news as the Blackhawks sent four players “home” from camp, and defenseman Caleb Jones was ruled out for six weeks with a wrist injury.

•   Two players who were making strides in camp and battling for NHL roster spots in the defensive group for the Blackhawks were Wyatt Kalynuk and Caleb Jones. Now, both will miss the beginning of the season and beyond that for the Blackhawks. A terrible missed opportunity for those two, but when one door closes, another opens.

•   Someone who will likely benefit from the unfortunate injures to Kalynuk and Jones is rookie defenseman Jakub Galvas, who has impressed in his first training camp with the Blackhawks. The 22-year-old seems to have gotten more comfortable as camp carries on ahead of his first North American professional season of his career.

•   Another player trying to hold onto hopes of an NHL roster spot is forward Alex Nylander. Have to respect him putting in the extra work to try to get up to speed after missing all of last season with a knee injury and surgery.

•   Does he have a spot at the NHL level? Does he need more conditioning? Is he a bust? All valid questions at this point regarding the former first-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres.

•   Someone not in danger of getting cut from camp is Brandon Hagel. He had a breakout rookie season in 2020-21 and has been solid through training camp. But yesterday gave us a scare in practice:

•   Can we stop getting players hurt in practice, please?

•   I know I’m getting itchy for real hockey to get here, so it’s no wonder the players are getting the itch as well.

•   While it has been fun for the Blackhawks and IceHogs going through training camp and playing preseason games, a number of Blackhawks players in the farm system have already started their regular seasons in Europe, Canadian Juniors, and the NCAA.

•   One player heading back to Juniors from training camp is Colton Dach. After getting cut from camp yesterday, Dach is headed back to the WHL, but with a new club after being traded from the Saskatoon Blades to the Kelowna Rockets. Here is his new sweater getting the final touches prior to his arrival in Kelowna:

•   Speaking of new stitchings for 2021 Blackhawks Draft picks, fourth-round pick Ethan Del Mastro has been named the Captain for the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL!

•   I’m hereby referring to Del Mastro as “The Rave” since I just realized his initials are “E-D-M.” How’s that for a hockey nickname?

•   The NCAA season is getting underway and Chicago landed five players on Top 100 NCAA Players to watch list this season from The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy:

•   Two of the five on the list were in action last night as Alex Vlasic and Drew Commesso with the Boston University Terriers played their first regular season game against UConn. BU was able to pull out a 2-1 win thanks in-part to a 33-save performance from Commesso in net, including this GEM of a glove save.

•   Duh-nah-nah, Duh-nah-nah.

•   Speaking of the farm system, the IceHogs were in action last night for their second and final preseason game prior to the start of the AHL regular season. Taking on the Iowa Wild again, here’s how Rockford lined up for their second of back-to-back games against the Wild last night:

•   Notably, Lukas Reichel again played the top-line center position and tallied two assists in the game as the IceHogs blew a 3-1 lead and lost in overtime.

•   Even though he is not starting the season in the NHL with the Blackhawks, there is a lot to love about what Lukas Reichel has shown already in the preseason for the Blackhawks and IceHogs. The plan shouldn’t be to rush him to the NHL before he is ready. As head coach Jeremy Colliton iterates, the goal is to build comfort and confidence in the 19-year-old.

•   He’ll play more than just a handful of NHL games this season with Chicago, I’m very confident in that.

•   Talking about confidence, Sean Gentile of The Athletic wanted to know where the confidence level of NHL fanbases are with their clubs heading into the season. I highly recommend reading the full piece, very interesting to see the polarizing way some fans see their teams, from sure-fire contenders to the Buffalo Sabres.

•   While Blackhawks fans might be on the lower-end of being optimistic about the organization, the various analytical models seem to be pretty consistent in having the Blackhawks fall short of playoff contention in the 2021-22 season.

•   Not too much to argue with in these analytical projections from the Computer Boyz™, I too think the Blackhawks will land somewhere in the high-80’s and low-90’s in points this season. Whether or not that is good enough to land them in a playoff spot is yet to be determined.

•   While the analytical models might not see Chicago as a playoff team, seven (!) NHL dot com staff writers believe the Blackhawks will be in the postseason in 2022.

•   Now, that’s the kind of optimism I like to hear.

•   A Happy Birthday to former Blackhawks defenseman (for half a season), Trevor Daley!

•   You’ll remember Daley as one of the founding members of the “Defenseman who didn’t get a fair shake with the Blackhawks who ended up getting traded and then won the Stanley Cup” club. Daley (Penguins, 2016 and 2017), along with Jan Rutta (Lightning, 2020 and 2021) and Michal Kempny (Capitals, 2018) meet every other Wednesday and exchange stories of being in the Joel Quenneville doghouse and what it was like to win the Stanley Cup as an eventual top-pair defenseman away from the Blackhawks. Or so I’m told.

•   Is this news? I mean, it’s something that happened, but is it news? Oh well, the Bowmans have sold their home in Lincoln Park:

•   I did, in fact, not purchase the house. In case you were suspicious.

•   Speaking of former homes, looks like Khalil Mack will be in the lineup for the Bears when they face his former club on Sunday, taking on the Oakland Las Vegas Raiders:

•   What is a bigger appearance against their former Vegas-based team: Mack vs Raiders or Fleury vs Golden Knights?

•   You know where my bias lands on that question. Especially since I asked the question.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Saturday and we’ll see you tonight for Blackhawks and Wild, the final preseason game for Chicago!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.