The 2022-23 NHL Preseason is winding down, leaving only two games left before the Chicago Blackhawks take the ice and play for real points. The first of two final exhibition match-ups sees the Hawks traveling to St. Paul to take on the Minnesota Wild.
In their last meeting — which took place on neutral ground at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee — the Hawks skated off with a 3-0 loss to their Central Division rivals. A lack of goal-scoring has been a common theme this preseason for Chicago, as they’ve been outscored 12-5 in four games, being shut out twice and only winning one game thus far. That’s just one of several reasons why season projections like the one below, which started trickling out in the last week, consistently have the Blackhawks near the bottom of the league standings:
Although winning games isn’t really what the preseason is about, the Blackhawks early struggles look like they could very much resurface through the 82-game regular season. The development and emergence of prospects will truly be the focal point in the immediate future.
While all eyes have been on the Blackhawks No. 7 overall draft pick, defensemen Kevin Korchinski, neither he nor prospect Sam Savoie, will be in the lineup after being sent back to the WHL following Sunday’s game.
#Blackhawks have returned Kevin Korchinski and Sam Savoie to their junior teams and assigned Arvid Soderblom to AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) October 3, 2022
Korchinski has been impressive so far in the early going, and Thursday’s game against the Wild is a good opportunity to see what his young team mates have to offer. The measuring stick will likely be different, as preseason rosters — and game speed — don’t quite equate to the regular season. But in a season that’s about development and trade chips, that’s what it’s all about.
Another first-round pick followed Korchinski out of Chicago, with the 2020’s No. 17 overall pick Lukas Reichel assigned to Rockford earlier this week. Here’s what the line combinations and D pairings looked like on Wednesday’s practice:
#Blackhawks lines and pairings:— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) October 5, 2022
J. Johnson-S. Jones
*Athanasiou is rotating in and out on first line
*Khaira rotating in and out on second line
With Minnesota being the home team and the regular season a week away, the Wild lineup could closely resemble its look for opening night. More on that as morning skates occur.
As for the Hawks,buying into the good, the bad or ugly seen in preseason is not advised. There is no reason to overreact in any direction to what happens in Thursday evenings match-up. But it’s still an opportunity to look at the unknowns that make up the roster that will take the ice against the Wild.
There has to be some diamonds in the rough somewhere ... doesn't there?
Tale of the tape (statistics from last season)
Blackhawks — Statistic — Wild
45.98% (30th) — Corsi For — 46.13% (28th)
45.48% (30th) — Expected goals for — 46.30 (27th)
2.60 (29th) — Goals per game — 3.72 (5th)
3.52 (26th) — Goals against per game — 3.04 (16th)
49.6% (16th) — Faceoffs — 47.6% (27th)
19.2% (21st) — Power play — 20.5% (18th)
76.2% (24th) — Penalty kill — 76.1% (25th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
T. Johnson — Toews — Kane
Kurashev — Domi — Raddysh
Dach — Lafferty — Entwistle
Blackhawkk — R. Johnson — Robinson
J. Johnson — Jones
Vlasic — Roos
Stillman — Regula
Gaudreau — Hartman — Boldy
Dewar — Rossi — Duhaime
Petan — Eriksson-Ek — Foligno
Cramaross — Fogarty — Walker
Lambos — Goligoski Spurgeon
Mermis — Johansson
Hunt — Hicketts
How to watch, listen
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, MN
TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network
Radio: WGN 720 (in the Chicagoland area)
Live stream: Sling TV