The NHL preseason is coming to come down to the wire, but before the Blackhawks can wrap things up and finalize their roster, they’ll have to face the Minnesota WIld in a home-and-home series.
The first of those two games will take place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday evening with a 7 p.m. puck drop.
Thursday night’s bout may not be the battle to determine who is actually the State of Hockey, but the game will allow for some of the young Hawks to showcase their skills in hopes to make the final cut or gain more ice time heading into the regular season.
Kevin Lankinen will get the call in net, with Malcom Subban as his back-up.
Kevin Lankinen will get the full game tonight, with Malcolm Subban backing him up.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 7, 2021
Caleb Jones (wrist) was out again today, and it remains to be seen if he'll be ready for the opener. He certainly had earned a spot in the lineup before the injury.
With the arrival of Marc-Andre Fleury, the Hawks goalie carousel of Lankinen, Subban and Colin Delia continues to spin. Lankinen will be looking to have a bounce-back performance in net but the way coach Jeremy Colliton will use his rotation over an 82-game schedule remains to be seen.
As expected, Colliton’s lineup card is prospect-heavy heading into the final road game of the preseason:
Blackhawks lineup for tonight’s game— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) October 7, 2021
Dylan Strome stands in as the veteran forward, slotting in at second line center. Strome’s ice time was down towards the end of the 2021 season and, uncharacteristically, he played most of his shifts on the wing. With Colton Dach and Adam Gaudette as Strome’s linemates, the trio will have an opportunity to make some noise while skating top-six minutes on Thursday night.
On the backend, newcomer Jake McCabe will be partnered with Connor Murphy as the Blackhawks’ blueline searches for new found chemistry.
Jeremy Colliton said roster decisions are going to be harder than he thought: "The younger players who we weren't sure how close they were going to be, it turns out they're really close, arguably playing well enough to make the team." #Blackhawks— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) October 7, 2021
As Colliton sorts out his roster over the final two preseason games, one player to keep an eye on will be Jujhar Khaira.
Khaira slotting in on the fourth line against Minnesota is not much of a surprise. However, his lack of ice time on special teams could be something of concern. With most of the veteran forwards having the night off, the bottom-six group — Khaira included — will have to make the most of Thursday’s matchup against the WIld.
Borgstrom — K. Dach — Hagel
C. Dach — Strome — Gaudette
Barratt — R. Johnson — Osipov
Hardman — Entwistle— Khaira
McCabe — Murphy
de Haan — Mitchell
How to watch
When: 7 p.m., Thursday
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
STREAM: ESPN+ (out of market only)