Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson wasn’t happy with the way his team started on Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Despite focusing on the first period in the planning for the game — the Jets played Thursday night — the Hawks came out flatter than the team with less rest and it cost them a first-period goal.
So Richardson went into the bottom drawer in the head coach’s office at the United Center and got the ol’ line blender out and threw the names in.
What did we see at the mid-day skate?
Now, I’ll caveat this with the note that Andreas Athanasiou is unlikely to play on Tuesday because of a family funeral. So he wasn’t even part of the line rushes at practice.
I’m on board with Jonathan Toews getting back with Taylor Raddysh; they play well together. And Philipp Kurashev being on that line has been a good option for the coaches. I also like putting Max Domi and Patrick Kane back together.
But without Athanasiou being part of the mix, Sam Lafferty jumps from the fourth-line center to the top line opposite Kane. Talk about the outhouse to the penthouse!
Tyler Johnson was at practice on Saturday but was back in a non-contact jersey. We’ll see if that means he suffered another setback or if he can return to the lineup at some point because the Blackhawks’ season turned on a dime when he left the lineup. It’s crazy to think that Tyler Johnson would make that much of an impact but here were are — your 2022-23 Chicago Blackhawks.
Also, goaltender Petr Mrazek said he’s feeling better and hopes to return on Tuesday against Washington. That’s a big deal, especially if Alex Stalock is close to returning as well.
It also makes more sense why Richardson spent so much time talking with the front office after the loss to Winnipeg discussing scenarios with his roster. If/when the Blackhawks are fully healthy there are going to be some tough decisions coming.