The Chicago Blackhawks will take the United Center ice for the first time in five months on Tuesday night when they welcome the St. Louis Blues to the United Center to open their 2022 NHL preseason slate.
It’s a wildly different Blackhawks team both on and off the ice, following a hectic offseason that saw Chicago embrace all aspects of the tanking philosophy in hopes of landing wunderkind Connor Bedard in the 2023 NHL Draft. But there’s a lot of hockey to be played between now and then, some of which could actually have an effect on the team’s long-term outlook in a way that has nothing to do with draft positioning.
The Blackhawks are expected to bring their “A” team — whatever that looks like — to 1901 W. Madison for this initial preseason tilt.
[TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE] Scroll down for line combinations from the morning skates.
While identifying line combinations for a preseason game can be a fool’s errand, the general themes from practice have had Patrick Kane skating with Max Domi as his center and Taylor Raddysh on his opposite wing, while Jonathan Toews has been flanked by Tyler Johnson and Colin Blackwell on what is probably a second line in name only. The bottom six will likely be populated by the group of Andreas Athanasiou, Sam Lafferty, Boris Katchouk, Jujhar Khaira, Philipp Kurashev, Reese Johnson and MacKenzie Entwistle, although coach Luke Richardson did say some young players could find a way into preseason lineups. That’d likely include 2020 first-round pick Lukas Reichel, who remains on the fence straddling the AHL and NHL with the season just a few weeks away.
As for the blue line, injuries to Jake McCabe and Ian Mitchell make that picture clearer, although which players are paired together will likely remain a mystery until the pregame skate. With veteran signing Jack Johnson not expected to play as he recovers from his Stanley Cup
hangover run with the Colorado Avalanche, the six defensemen in Chicago sweaters on Tuesday night will probably be: Seth Jones, Connor Murphy, Riley Stillman, Alec Regula and Alex Vlasic. But, to Richardson’s point above, youngsters like 2022 first-round pick Kevin Korchinski could also be considered here.
That’ll be the group in front of new goalies Petr Mrazek and Alex Stalock, who’ll split the net:
Luke Richardson said the main group will play in Tuesday’s preseason opener, so expect Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to be in the lineup.— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) September 26, 2022
Petr Mrazek and Alex Stalock will split goaltending duties. #Blackhawks
As for the opponents, here’s who St. Louis sent to a game against the Dallas Stars on Monday night:
Earlier, I tweeted the Blues' roster that's going to Dallas tonight. Here's the lines and D pairs based on this morning's practice...— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) September 26, 2022
Which of those players will be on a plane to Chicago for Tuesday’s game?
Moving on ...
It’s a new era in Chicago with Richardson saying all the right things so far and also appearing to do the right things, including his recent beer bribe of the local media contingent. One tactical change from the prior regime to watch for on Tuesday will come should the Blackhawks play shorthanded:
More Richardson on PK: "A lot of teams fall back into a 1-3 and take their chances at the blue line. I don’t like those odds against the best players in the world. I’d rather disrupt things up ice. They’re not used to it, they don’t like it, and it bodes well for our team."— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) September 26, 2022
Outside of that, well, it’s the first Blackhawks hockey game in five months. The short-term future may be bleak, but bad hockey is still better than no hockey, isn’t it?
... isn’t it?
Guess we’ll find out this season.
Let’s go Hawks.
Tale of the tape (statistics from last season)
Blackhawks — Statistic — Blues
45.98% (30th) — Corsi For — 47.08% (24tht)
45.48% (30th) — Expected goals for — 47.19 (23rd)
2.60 (29th) — Goals per game — 3.77 (3rd)
3.52 (26th) — Goals against per game — 2.91 (11th)
49.6% (16th) — Faceoffs — 50.2% (14th)
19.2% (21st) — Power play — 27.0% (2nd)
76.2% (24th) — Penalty kill — 84.1% (5th)
Projected lineups (from Tuesday’s morning skates)
Athanasiou — Domi — Kane
T. Johnson — Toews — Raddysh
Robinson — Guttman — Blackwell
Savoie — Slavin — Teply
Vlasic — S. Jones
Korchinski — Murphy
del Mastro — C. Jones
#stlblues game lines vs. #Blackhawks tonight:— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) September 27, 2022
How to watch
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago Plus, NHL Network
Radio: WGN 720 (in the Chicagoland area)
Live stream: Sling TV