With a number of players sent back to their junior clubs and Rockford in the past few days, the Blackhawks are getting closer to the core group of players they expect to be on the NHL roster in Denver next week when the regular season begins.
I made the point over the weekend that we haven’t seen the Blackhawks’ entire first group together in a game, a point that Jonathan Toews echoed after practice when asked about the struggles of the penalty kill over the weekend. The two games had completely different rosters, and many of those players aren’t going to be on the Hawks’ NHL roster.
But performance matters when you’re on the ice. And after a weekend that saw the Blackhawks score exactly zero goals in two games, head coach Luke Richardson appears to have thrown his lines into the blender already.
Here’s what the Blackhawks looked like at the skate on Tuesday:
Tyler Johnson — Jonathan Toews — Patrick Kane
Philipp Kurashav — Max Domi — Taylor Raddysh
Buddy Robinson — Sam Lafferty — Colin Blackwell
Andreas Athanasiou — Colton Dach — Mackenzie Entwistle
It’s worth noting Juhjar Khaira was not on the ice on Tuesday; he’s dealing with an ankle injury from the weekend still. So he might be in the fourth-line center spot occupied by Dach in these lines.
Clearly the “new nuclear option” of Kane-Toews-T. Johnson (or, frankly, whomever wants to shoot the damn puck) is a thing. That line spent most of the skate together. As did the others, with Dach also working with Reese Johnson and Mike Hardman as well.
Here’s what head coach Luke Richardson had to say after practice about changing things up:
I think sometimes we can easily forget that just because a guy was coaching in the NHL and has experience watching guys from the other bench or on tape, he might want to actually see the chemistry evolve on the ice and get a feel for how things might work first-hand.
Toews told us the familiarity between himself and Kane is always there. He knows where Kane likes to set up and also where he should go to give Kane an option. Toews also joked that he better win all of his faceoffs if he’s on the ice with 88 because he’ll hear about it on the bench if he doesn’t.