Tonight sets up to be a truly unique game experience for the Blackhawks. With Vancouver making their coaching change official this weekend, the temperament of the crowd is a total wild card. How the Canucks respond after one day of practice with their new head coach is another. And the Blackhawks have a few moving pieces of their own on the roster to consider…
- The Blackhawks had some roster issues to sort out on Monday with Tyler Johnson re-injuring his ankle on Sunday night. Tyler was placed on IR on Monday, so Chicago recalled two players from Rockford: forward Luke Philp and defenseman Filip Roos. Isaak Phillips was sent to Rockford as well to continue his development.
- Jason Dickinson returns to Vancouver tonight after the Canucks traded him to the Blackhawks just before the season started. It’s safe to say the Blackhawks won the trade; they also received a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft from the Canucks for defenseman Riley Stillman. Dickinson, meanwhile, has become a solid contributor for the Blackhawks this season.
- When the Blackhawks take the ice in Vancouver tonight, one interested party in attendance will be Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion. He’s reportedly shopping for help on the blue line, and Chicago has plenty of potentially available defensemen. Dorion was also in Chicago on Sunday night.
- Ottawa eyeing defensemen makes the swap of Roos for Phillips especially interesting. Phillips was stuck in a rotation with Ian Mitchell at the NHL level; Roos has already appeared in 15 games with the Blackhawks this season and 17 since he was assigned to the AHL.
- It’s worth taking a moment to consider the state of affairs in the building tonight surrounding the game. The way the Canucks did Bruce Boudreau is a disgrace. And Rick Tocchet is walking into a hornets’ nest where fans aren’t happy about the on-ice product or the way the front office treated a veteran head coach.
- The Canucks’ payroll feels like a college athletic department right now. They’re on the hook for $7.5 million to head coaches — two of whom aren’t even there any more.
- I figured it was only a matter of time before we saw writer(s) somewhere spitball about the value of Sam Lafferty in a trade. On Monday, Scott Powers worked with Jonas Siegel at The Athletic to make the case that Lafferty would work well for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- Just to be clear: this isn’t so much a rumor as it is two writers making the case for a player to work well in another situation where there’s a need.
- They make a strong case for what Lafferty brings to the table being the right impact for Toronto. And his contract (one more year at a $1.15 million cap hit) would be a huge win for the Leafs. Siegel also notes the Leafs made a move for a comparable player, current Blackhawk Colin Blackwell, in the same trade that brought Mark Giordano to Toronto last year (both had expiring contracts at the time). The Leafs gave up two second-rounders and a third in that trade. They arrive at a third round pick being a place where the Blackhawks would listen and the Leafs might be willing to move the value for the additional year of control.
- Here’s my issue with the hypothesis: if the Blackhawks are trying to build around two elements — speed and effort — right now, isn’t Lafferty a guy you want in the room as much as possible for the next 1-3 years? He helps with penalty killing, brings energy almost every night and makes an impact. Maybe a third is high enough for Davidson to answer the phone. But I tend to think Lafferty could be here at least until next year’s deadline, if not longer. This comment from Max Domi after the win in St. Louis is evidence to my thought that he’s a guy you want on your roster:
“Laff brings something, he’s usually our staple of skating, and he’s one of the fastest guys on our team,” Domi said Saturday. “When he’s playing with energy, it usually infects our whole group. Unfortunately, we were a little bit slow to close. We weren’t bad, but we really didn’t have our skating legs going early on, but he did. He really carried us through most of the first period there. He was our best player, other than the goalie tonight.”
- Finally, we’ve celebrated a few Blackhawks reaching the 1,000 game benchmark in recent seasons. Last night at the United Center, DeMar DeRozan reached the milestone for the Bulls. He’s been terrific since coming to Chicago, and last night’s performance was another reminder of how special he is as a player.