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Blackhawks open preseason against Capitals

Alexander Nylander and Ryan Carpenter hope to impress in their first game with the Blackhawks.

Brad Repplinger / Second City Hockey

Blackhawks hockey is back!

Chicago starts its preseason on the road Monday against the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals, led by Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and defenseman John Carlson, are primed for another Stanley Cup run. Their hopes to repeat as Stanley Cup champs ended in a Game 7 double overtime thriller to the Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs.

However, Blackhawks fans won’t have to worry about Ovechkin barreling down the wing in Monday’s game.

Washington is loading their lineup with prospects and depth players fighting for a roster spot in Monday’s clash with the Blackhawks. According to Capitals reporter Mike Vogel, 2019 first round draft pick (No. 25 overall) Connor McMichael is expected to center a line with wingers Chandler Stephenson and Damien Riat. They scored all three of their team’s goals in the Capitals intrasquad scrimmage Sunday and impressed head coach Todd Reirden. McMichael posted 72 points with the London Knights (OHL) and is one of Washington’s top prospects.

Netminder Pheonix Copley, who served as Braden Holtby’s backup last season, is slated to start in goal. Copley posted a .905 save-percentage and 2.90 goals-against-average in 27 games. The last time Copley saw the Blackhawks, he relieved Holtby in the 8-5 offensive outburst by Chicago that sparked a seven-game winning streak.

The Blackhawks are also filling their lineup with a horde of prospects and bubble players fighting for a longer look from coach Jeremy Colliton. Since the Blackhawks are heading to Europe for the NHL Global Series next week, the roster cuts will be sped up:

Chicago’s first three preseason games will be an evaluation time for players hoping to secure a spot on the trip to Europe.

Collin Delia will start in goal for Chicago. He is primed to split starts with Kevin Lankinen in Rockford after Vezina Trophy finalist Robin Lehner was signed to a one-year deal during the offseason. Delia played in 16 games for the Blackhawks last season and posted a .908 save percentage and 3.61 goals-against-average.

For those wondering what’s going on with Kirby Dach, here’s the latest news from Monday’s morning skate:

What to watch:

1. Which Alexander Nylander will show up?

After being acquired for Henri Jokiharju, Nylander is hoping to quiet his doubters with an impressive start to his Blackhawks tenure.

2. How will Colliton utilize Adam Boqvist in his first NHL game action and is Boqvist ready to defend at the NHL level?

Boqvist earned lots of playing time during the 2018 preseason under Joel Quenneville and showed off impressive confidence handling the puck and joining offensive zone rushes. Has his development over the last season with Brian Campbell prepared him to face pro-level opposition in the defensive zone?

3. Will free agent acquisition Ryan Carpenter be one of the answers to improving Chicago’s defensive zone coverage, reliability at center and on the penalty kill?

It will be the first time free agent acquisition Ryan Carpenter will suit up for the Blackhawks. Let’s see if his scouting report matches up with his in-game skillset.

Lineups

Blackhawks

Quenneville - Carpenter - Perlini
Nylander - Kampf - Saarela
D. Sikura - Highmore - Wedin
McLaughlin - Nilsson - Versteeg

Gilbert - Boqvist
Koekkoek - Gustafsson
Beaudin - Tuulola
Dahlstrom

Delia
Tomkins

Capitals

Leipsic - Boyd - Wilson
Gersich - Dowd - Hathaway
Stephenson - McMichael - Riat
Malenstyn - Protas - Snively

Siegenthaler - Djoos
Nardella - Jensen
Johansen - Lewington

Copley
Samsonov

How to watch

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

TV: NBC Sports Chicago-Plus