A large roundup of Chicago Blackhawks news for Tuesday afternoon.
First, on Monday evening, the Blackhawks assigned Philipp Kurashev to Rockford and called up Josiah Slavin to replace him.
Kurashev had just five assists in 19 NHL games this season, saw his ice time fluctuate over the last several games, and was recently a healthy scratch. Slavin is tied for third on the IceHogs with 8 points (4 G, 4 A) in 15 games and has 15 points (7 G, 8 A) in his first 30 AHL games.
Speaking of Rockford, the IceHogs announced injuries to a few players Tuesday morning, including top forward prospect Lukas Reichel.
Reichel is in concussion protocol and no timeline was given beyond that he would be unavailable for Wednesday night’s game. He sustained the injury after a bad hit from behind that sent him into the boards head-first during Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Admirals.
Also, forward Brett Connolly is out with a right leg injury and defenseman Michael Krutil is out with a hand injury. Both are expected to miss 1-2 weeks.
Medical Updates: We have issued updates on four players heading into our three-game road trip. https://t.co/Y62TUyKPoE— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) November 30, 2021
At Blackhawks practice on Tuesday, the team spent time on some offense-focused drills, including one about deflections and rebounds after defender shots. This makes sense, considering the Blackhawks have primary form of offense lately has been through getting point shots on net.
Goal-starved #Blackhawks pre-practice drill: Taking long shots from just inside the blue line with two forwards in front; one trying to tip it in, the other looking for a rebound.— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) November 30, 2021
The lagging power play was a major focus at practice as well. Interim coach Derek King spoke to Jonathan Toews during practice about a potential role change and other ways to possibility kick start the offense with the man-advantage:
Derek King said he was talking to Toews about possible line changes and the power play, which is in a slump. He said it’s “their” pp, as in the players and he wants their input on any changes. He said Toews doesn’t want to be in the bumper spot…no surprise there @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/VBsATRye8q— Jackie Kostek (@JackieKostek) November 30, 2021
Blackhawks coach Derek King elaborates on Toews and the power play. pic.twitter.com/0m4BKvzwz5— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) November 30, 2021
In terms of lines, Dylan Strome replaced the recently demoted Kurashev on the second line and Slavin slotted in on the fourth line during line rushes. The other two lines remained unchanged from Sunday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
King stated the obvious about Strome’s usage:
Derek King on Dylan Strome going from healthy scratch to top-six role: "There's no point to us putting him back in the lineup in a fourth-line checking role. That's not him. He's a skilled guy."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 30, 2021
Said like Kurashev, he needs to improve away from the puck.
Why King ever put Strome in on the fourth line knowing this is a mystery, especially considering former coach Jeremy Colliton already went through that rotation:
A play in five acts:— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 4, 2021
Dylan Strome: *sits out a bunch of games*
Dylan Strome: *finally gets in, plays well, creates chances*
Dylan Strome: *gets demoted to fourth line with grinder types*
Dylan Strome: *doesn't play well in ill-fitting role*
Dylan Strome: *gets scratched*
Slavin gave a little scouting report on himself too — and so did his brother, Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin:
Josiah Slavin called himself as a two-way forward with a defensive focus. Worked on his skating the most to work his way up as a 7th-round pick.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 30, 2021
"I’m not the prettiest skater, and it’s not always the most effective way when you’re not pretty."
Jaccob Slavin is "super excited" about his brother, Josiah, being called up by the Blackhawks. "He's going to work hard. He's got a good stick, big boy like I am, and he moves well. I'm so pumped."— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) November 30, 2021
Defensive pairings remained the same from Sunday’s game, excluding that Calvin de Haan was missing — he had a maintenance day due to lower back soreness.
MEDICAL UPDATE: Defenseman Calvin de Haan will not practice today (lower back soreness). #Blackhawks— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) November 30, 2021
And last in practice news, the Marc-André Fleury and Patrick Kane rivalry continues:
“Sometimes he tells me I’m slow. Sometimes he yells at the goalie coach, Jimmy (Waite), ‘Fix the goalie!’”—Marc-Andre Fleury on Patrick Kane’s chirping— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) November 30, 2021
(this all started with @MarkLazerus jokingly asking Fleury whether he lets Blackhawks skaters score to build their confidence) pic.twitter.com/CBcnTbyqBu
The Blackhawks will practice again at Fifth Third Arena Wednesday at 11 am.
Also, from a league-wide perspective, the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases has led the NHL to take precautionary measures to ensure more games aren’t missed. In the last few weeks, both the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders have had games postponed by a high number of COVID cases within each team:
#NHL on high alert with COVID-19 positive tests rising, as mentioned on Ice Breakers segment today.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) November 30, 2021
This memo was sent to all 32 teams yesterday, effectively canceling all holiday parties, in addition to public engagements and events. pic.twitter.com/9dsrs3DeZc
In other prospect news, USA Hockey released its training camp roster for the 2022 World Juniors, with four Blackhawks prospects on the list: goaltender Drew Commesso, forward Landon Slaggert and defensemen Wyatt Kaiser and Connor Kelley.
USA Hockey has announced its 2022 World Junior camp roster. pic.twitter.com/VdDkB6x19o— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) November 30, 2021
And, finally, the jerseys that the players wore during Sunday’s pregame skate are available for auction, with proceeds going to the Blackhawks Foundation: