Toews Is Ready, Chicago Routs Minnesota, Final Cuts, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Toews Is Ready, Chicago Routs Minnesota, Final Cuts, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

I have admittedly never seen the John Wick movies. But, I am familiar with the scene where he says “People keep asking me if I’m back. And I haven’t really had an answer. But now, yeah, I’m thinking I’m. back!” Well that’s the energy that Jonathan Toews has been exuding since he got back on the ice with the Blackhawks in training camp and through the preseason. Last night was the exclamation point to his statement with two powerplay goals in Chicago’s 5-1 win over the Wild.

•   It definitely was a good night for the Blackhawks.

•   With the Wild playing their NHL lineup after making all of their necessary cuts yesterday, the Blackhawks had a stern test against a team that many believe will finish in the top-three of the Central Division. Chicago was icing a mostly NHL lineup, with a number of decisions still to make on who will or will not be on the opening night roster.

•   Last night, some of those decisions were probably finalized. One player trying to make a final impression was Henrik Borgström, and his opening goal in the first period was probably the marker to put him over the fence and into an NHL roster spot.

•   Borgström is former first-round pick, but his NHL career never got truly jump-started after being a standout in the NCAA. He came to the Blackhawks with hopes of making the NHL roster after playing last season in Finland. All preseason, Borgström has been a player on the bubble, and even after last night, he still wasn’t sure where he stood in the Blackhawks’ pecking order.

•   I have a spot for him on my Blackhawks team, if I were the GM.

•   One player not in jeopardy of missing the cut: Alex DeBrincat.

•   DeBrincat, along with Patrick Kane and Tyler Johnson have been a very successful top-line for the Blackhawks thought the preseason. I was skeptical of that line early in training camp, but it has grown on me.

•   Special teams have been an on again, off again situation for the Blackhawks in recent years. The penalty-kill has usually been off again. Last night though, Philipp Kurashev and Ryan Carpenter connected for a beauty of a short-handed goal.

•   Carpenter and Kurashev were two players I didn’t expect to potentially be on the NHL/AHL bubble this preseason, but they had to fight to keep their roster spots. If I’m the GM, they’re on the team, too.

•   Speaking of special teams, the powerplay was on again, scoring twice in the second and third periods to seal the game for Chicago. Both powerplay goals coming from Jonathan Toews in his final tune-up game before the start of the regular season and his return to real hockey.

•   The first powerplay goal for Toews, which was his first goal of the preseason, was fluky and not really highlight-worthy in the grand scheme of things. But hey, a goal is a goal, right?

•   The second powerplay goal, however, was so hot and silky that they’d have to advertise it on TV during safe harbor hours. Puck and player movement has been a key focus for the Blackhawks powerplay during this preseason. There has been a lot less of just handing the puck to Patrick Kane and watching him try to do something with it. The puck movement on the second Toews powerplay goal was just perfection.

•   This doesn’t even do it full justice. That powerplay possession lasted about a full minute before Toews scored. I almost fell out of my chair. More of that, please.

•   The big guns showed up last night in a game most of them could have easily just coasted through.

•   Following his two-goal effort, Jonathan Toews was named the first star of the game and addressed the crowd following the 5-1 win.

•   The Captain said prior to last night’s contest that he feels ready to play on Wednesday night for the season-opener, a goal he had set for himself back the summer when he announced he would be returning to the team this season. After the game, head coach Jeremy Colliton made as much of a commitment as he could to saying Toews will be in Wednesday night’s lineup against the Avalanche.

•   The Blackhawks have until tomorrow night to figure out their roster and opening night lineup moves. The 5-1 win over the Wild last night, a team that was playing all of their NHL players, was the final audition for many. We’ll find out who the Blackhawks will be this season, at least for opening night, in just over 24 hours.

•   Following last night’s action, the Blackhawks did make a few cuts to players who were not in the lineup last night.

•   Mike Hardman, Reese Johnson, Nicolas Beaudin, and Jakub Galvas were assigned to the IceHogs. Not too many surprises, but Galvas did make the decision on whether he was an NHL or AHL player to begin the season difficult for the Blackhawks. Helping his case were the injuries to Caleb Jones and Wyatt Kalynuk, but Galvas will start the year in Rockford. He, along with Beaudin and likely Ian Mitchell, will probably get top minutes in the IceHogs’ defensive group to begin the year.

•   With the moves, the Blackhawks are down to 28 players left in “camp.” They need to get down to at least 23 by Monday night. I don’t envy Jeremy Colliton to be in this position.

•   One difficult situation that is unavoidable is sending down two goaltender in Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban. Marc-André Fleury and Kevin Lankinen are clearly going to be the tandem in Chicago to begin the season, so Subban and Delia will be headed to Rockford. But, they will have to make it through waivers first. There are a few teams that wouldn’t mind having a goaltender like Subban or Delia to maybe have as an affordable backup as a better option than what they have in-house. We could see one, if not both, claimed prior to the beginning of the season having to go through waivers. But don’t be surprised if the Blackhawks wait until the very last second to place them through, hoping that teams are set in their rosters enough to not have room for either.

•   Cutting Subban and Delia gets the Blackhawks down to 26 players, so who will be the final three cuts? We shall see very soon.  Also keep in mind that the Blackhawks must be cap compliant for their opening night roster before having Andrew Shaw’s LTIR  cap room kick-in, so don’t be surprised to see a few “paper transactions” for the Blackhawks with any waivers-exempt players.

•   Oh lord! Lest we forget the adventure that Marc-André Fleury went on last night!

•   Always smiling, that guy.

•   In prospect news for the Blackhawks last night, a few farm system standouts got their first goals of the season. In the NCAA, Notre Dame’s Landon Slaggert tallied his first of the year in a 5-1 win for the Irish.

•   Slaggert finished third on the team in scoring as a freshman last season for Notre Dame, as well as helping Team USA win a Gold Medal at the World Junior Championships. Slaggert will again be a top player for the Irish this season and is eligible to play for Team USA again at the World Junior Championships this winter. There’s a lot of Andrew Shaw and Brandon Hagel in Slaggert, he’s one to keep an eye on this year.

•   Another one to keep your eye on is Colton Dach. After an extended stay with the Blackhawks in training camp, Dach got to his new WHL home with the Kelowna Rockets and made an immediate impact last night.

•   Dach was playing the top-line center role for the Rockets last night, a role his older brother Kirby is hoping to become with the Blackhawks very soon.

•   Speaking of first goals, on this day in 2007, Jonathan Toews introduced himself to the NHL.

•   I can’t believe we used to watch hockey through a potato. Crazy.

•   Here is a fun fact for the day from CapFriendly:

•   I am officially above average in the NHL. In some way, at least.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Bears Sunday!

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

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