Since Thursday, Chicago has trimmed down their training camp roster by sending netminder Alexis Gravel back to the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL and assigning a group of 21 players, including Kris Versteeg and Dylan Sikura, to the AHL. With a trip to Europe on the itinerary next weekend, head coach Jeremy Colliton is preparing for more roster cuts after Saturday’s game against the Bruins:
Colliton said to expect more cuts soon because they want to get down to one practice group by Monday. It was a little unclear whether those cuts will come before or after tomorrow night's game.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) September 20, 2019
Robin Lehner is expected to start in goal for Chicago and play the full game after splitting time with Kevin Lankinen on Tuesday. Lehner gave up two goals on 17 shots in his preseason debut with the Blackhawks.
Boston is coming off a dramatic run to the Stanley Cup Final where they fell to the Blues in seven games. It was the first time they reached the Finals since the 2012-13 season, when the Blackhawks memorably scored two goals in 17-seconds to win their second Stanley Cup in four seasons.
Most of the Bruins’ roster is still intact from last season, minus a few changes in the bottom six. The star-studded first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak pace their offense, but none of these three forwards will be traveling to Chicago. Earlier this week, restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo were signed to a three- and two-year deals, respectively. With Zdeno Chara getting up there in age at 42-years old, McAvoy and Carlo are primed to be in the Bruins top-4 for the foreseeable future.
Blachawks fans will get a chance to watch McAvoy and Carlo tonight as they are in the lineup for the first time since signing their new contracts. Maxime Legace is expected to start in goal and split time with Kyle Keyser.
What to watch for:
1. How will Olli Maatta and Brent Seabrook perform in their second straight game together?
In the 2-1 win over the Red Wings on Wednesday, the Maatta - Seabrook duo played 13:28-minutes at 5-on-5 together. While on the ice, they only gave up two shots on goal and dominated possession with a 74.1 Corsi-For rating. They also spent 3:07-minutes together on the penalty kill without giving up a high-danger scoring chance.
Coming into preseason, a pairing of Seabrook and Maatta, both of whom have below-average speed, was not expected.
2. Is Anton Wedin going to win the competition for the last forward spot on the NHL roster?
Wedin, a free agent acquisition from Timra IK in Sweden, has played in two of three preseason games averaging just under 14-minutes of ice time in the bottom six. He has been most noticeable on the penalty kill earning 3:27-minutes with Zack Smith on Tuesday.
Wedin is slotted to center the third line with Brandon Saad and Dominik Kubalik against the Bruins. If he can continue to play consistent and reliable minutes on the penalty kill, Wedin has a chance to be the 13th forward on the roster that can occasionally jump into the lineup and boost the penalty kill that was dead last in the NHL with a 72.7 success rate last season.
3. How does Lehner perform in his first full game?
After a 23-save performance by Corey Crawford against the Red Wings on Wednesday, it’s Lehner’s turn to showcase the skillset that gave him Vezina Trophy finalist honors last season. With Lehner and Crawford in net, the Blackhawks could have the best goalie tandem in the NHL.
Nylander - Toews - Kane
DeBrincat - Strome - Shaw
Saad - Wedin - Kubalik
Smith - Carpenter - Caggiula
Keith - Gustafsson
Maatta - Seabrook
Murphy - Koekkoek
Will be updated when lines are available.
How to watch
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago-Plus