The Blackhawks are off today, but there are plenty of things to catch up on from the first week of training camp before we spend the day watching football (and hopefully a Bears win).
- Luke Richardson shed some light on his strategy regarding the composition of his lines during the first week of practice on Saturday afternoon. While he’s said that Max Domi will be centering the Patrick Kane line to open the season, the rest of the lines that he used this week were designed with two things in mind; 1) establishing some continuity for the first few days to get through drills and begin to install his systems, and 2) get some of the younger skaters – primarily defenseman – paired with veterans to ease their transition into the new systems.
- For example, we asked Richardson about his decision to pair Seth Jones with Alex Vlasic for the first week of camp, to which Richardson said that his understanding is that there was some familiarity between the two from last spring, and he wanted Seth Jones to be able to take Vlasic under his wing.
- Tab wrote about Alex Vlasic’s impressive first week of camp and his chances of making the opening night roster this morning:
- Richardson hinted that there might be changes to that strategy coming when practices resume this week. I wrote about Patrick Kane and Max Domi’s excitement for their new partnership on Kane’s line this morning with insight from Kane, Domi, and Richardson. You can check that out here:
- Richardson also hinted at another potential pairing on Saturday afternoon, saying this about newcomer Andreas Athanasiou and returning Blackhawk Sam Lafferty: “Just thinking in my mind right now, Athanasiou and Lafferty, could you imagine them on the same line?”
- Richardson said that in game-planning for Athanasiou as an opposing coach over the years, he’s always been a fan of his elite speed: “Coaching against him, I was always bringing his name up — whether it was power play or 5-on-5 play — especially running the defense, watching out for his speed. And sure enough, he’d always get two breakaways a game. So that’s what we’re looking for from him. We’re looking to use his speed. That’s what this team needs, and that’s how the game is played now.”
- So, doing a little math in my head here, if Kane and Domi will make up two-thirds of the top line (presumably), and Toews will slot into the second-line center role. We might see a pairing of Sam Lafferty and Andreas Athanasiou as a third line. Then you figure Taylor Raddysh (who spent the first week with Kane/Domi) and Tyler Johnson will be in the mix for top-six roles; the top three lines are starting to take shape.
- Like his pairing of Seth Jones and Alex Vlasic, Richardson went with the veteran/youngster combination in pairing Jack Johnson and Kevin Korchinski for much of the first week of practices.
- Richardson called Jack Johnson the first star of the week because Johnson repeatedly popped up on tape from his time with Colorado last year, and tape of the Avs cup run has been a primary teaching tool in meetings thus far.
- Before we get out of here, here are some stories from the first week of camp that you should check out if you haven’t already:
- Luke Richardson isn’t just receiving positive marks from the pundits in camps, but his players are buying into his vision at a rapid rate:
- Alec Regula is seeing the benefits of unified messaging in the Blackhawks organization:
- Isaak Phillips is proving that he’s ready for what’s next and discussed his thoughts on camp, his time working with Brian Campbell, and more in our exclusive conversation with him this week:
- A wrist injury that will cause Ian Mitchell to miss six weeks complicates his future with the Blackhawks:
- Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews discussed their uncertain futures this past week:
- That’s it for today; enjoy your Sunday, and follow along with all of our coverage of Blackhawks camp next week, including an exclusive with Lukas Reichel dropping on Monday morning!
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