The Blackhawks started training camp Friday at Fifth Third Arena. Here are some takeaways and observations from the opening day.
Back to the basics. pic.twitter.com/3am6qhszhr— Jimmy Greenfield (@jcgreenx) September 13, 2019
Kirby Dach, Calvin de Haan are out
Dach, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, is in concussion protocol after taking a hit against Minnesota on Tuesday in the NHL Prospect tournament in Traverse City, Michigan. The Blackhawks called the injury “not serious” after Dach exited the game, and timeline for him to practice is unknown. He did not skate prior to the team’s practice.
Missing the first day of camp isn’t a big blow to Dach’s chances to make the team. Once he’s cleared to return, he’ll have the opportunity to show if he can break training camp in the NHL or he’ll be reassigned to the WHL.
De Haan’s return from his offseason surgery on his right shoulder is 2-3 weeks away, but he also has a groin strain. The Blackhawks said he’ll be “out of the lineup,” which means he could, in theory, practice with the team and not play in preseason games then be ready to go. A three-week return would put him at Oct. 4, the day of Chicago’s season opener against the Flyers in Prague. The Blackhawks have almost a week off after their opener until they host the Sharks on Oct. 10. With de Haan out of game action, other defensemen will have more time to possibility crack the lineup.
Prospect Philipp Kurashev, who will play in the AHL this upcoming season, is day-to-day with a left knee and shoulder contusion after a hit in Traverse City. He skated with de Haan prior to practice.
Adam Boqvist is going pro
This has been known for a while, but general manager Stan Bowman finally gave his stamp of approval.
“I think Adam has made enough progress,” Bowman said. “The biggest thing for him has always been the physicality and strength. He put in a lot of work. I got to give him credit, especially this summer and even last year during the season. He still has to continue to mature and develop physically, but he’s ready to be a pro.”
“The drawback to going back to juniors is you don’t have access to them for the whole season, so I think he’s a player we’re going to want to have access to whether he’s in Chicago or nearby in Rockford.”
The defenseman, who turned 19 years old in August, will start the season in the AHL or NHL, and not return to the London Knights in the OHL. His offensive skillset his undeniable, but it’s the defensive side of the game that needs to improve. Boqvist figures to be a player that benefits from extra ice with de Haan out.
Bowman made several moves this offseason by trade, but he’s put the phone down and is happy with the players that could make up the roster.
“I would say right now most teams around the league have the same position. We have a lot of players we are trying to see what we like with our own group,” Bowman said. “I’m not expecting any trades.”
How will coach Jeremy Colliton juggle the workload between Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner? That’s been a hot question ever since Bowman signed Lehner to a one-year deal in July. Bowman didn’t reach out to Crawford prior to the signing and goaltending coach Jimmy Waite was the first to do so.
Lehner spoke with media after the signing and at the Blackhawks convention, but Friday was the first time for Crawford since he was on his honeymoon during the convention.
Corey Crawford was asked if splitting the starts this season will help him stay fresher long-term, and he basically said...no.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) September 13, 2019
"Personally, I feel better when I play more."
Lehner was a Vezina Trophy finalist for the Islanders last season after going 25-13-4 with a 2.13 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and six shutouts. He’s only 28 and doesn’t have injury concerns like Crawford, who turns 35 in December and has missed a considerable amount of time the past two seasons due to concussions.
Lehner (43) and Thomas Greiss (39) shared the net for New York and won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the goalies with the fewest goals allowed during the regular season. A similar split for Crawford and Lehner would keep both goaltenders fresh throughout the season.
Bubble guy decisions
The Blackhawks start their preseason with three games on as many nights — excluding the training camp festival — then have a two-day break before hosting the Bruins on Sept. 21. The game against Boston falls on the eve of the Rockford IceHogs training camp beginning, and will likely serve as the first cut off date for bubble guys to make the team.
The next week Chicago hosts the Capitals on Wednesday then leaves for Berlin, Germany, to have three practice days before playing Eisbären Berlin in the NHL Global Series. Rockford head coach Derek King will take the IceHogs to Boston on Sept. 28.
Jeremy Colliton said that the looming European trip will "speed up the process" of whittling down the roster. So the four "games" in four days starting Sunday — training-camp festival, at WSH, at DET, vs. DET — will be critical for bubble guys.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 13, 2019
.@NHLBlackhawks GM Stan Bowman meets the media after Day 1 of Training Camp. https://t.co/fbRkudgLRh— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) September 13, 2019