Blackhawks’ Blake Hillman will likely make his NHL debut vs. Avalanche
Chicago goaltender Collin Delia will make his second straight start in net.
Defenseman Blake Hillman will likely make his NHL debut Friday, when the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center in Denver.
Hillman, 22, signed a two-year entry-level contract earlier this week after his junior season with the University of Denver. The 2016 sixth-round pick had three goals and nine assists for the Pioneers in 41 games this past season. The 6-foot-1, 193 pounder had two shots in a block in two tournament games.
Collin Delia will make his second straight start in net Friday. Delia made stopped 25 of 27 shots in his NHL debut during Chicago’s 6-2 win over Winnipeg on Thursday at United Center. He left the game in the third period with cramps and was replaced by 36-year-old emergency backup goaltender Scott Foster, who made seven saves in his own NHL debut. After Thursday’s game, Chicago recalled Jean-Francois Berube from the AHL.
The San Jose Sharks, who are idle Friday, will also be cheering for Chicago against Colorado. The Sharks can clinch a playoff berth if the Los Angeles Kings and Hawks both win in regulation.
While Chicago is out of Stanley Cup playoff contention, Colorado is still fighting for a spot. The Avalanche are one point out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with five games remaining. It’ll be a tough task for Colorado to make the playoffs with three of its last five games against teams it’s chasing for a wild-card spot — Anaheim, Los Angeles and St. Louis.
Colorado is also dealing with some goalie issues. Top goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who had played in 21 straight games, missed Wednesday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with an illness. Backup Jonathan Bernier was also out of action due to an infection in his left hand, so Andrew Hammond was recalled from the AHL to start against Philadelphia. Hammond gave up two goals in the first period before settling in for 31 saves in his Colorado debut.
Varlamov and Bernier will be available against Chicago. Both netminders returned to the ice Thursday, although second-year coach Jared Bednar hasn’t declared a starter.
Colorado is led by Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon, who has 92 points (38 goals, 54 assists). MacKinnon’s 92 points rank fifth in the NHL and his assists are ninth.
Friday’s game will be the final contest between the two Central Division foes this season. The Hawks are 1-0-2 against Colorado in the season series.
|F1||Brandon Saad - Nick Schmaltz - Patrick Kane|
|F2||Tomas Jurco - Artem Anisimov - Andreas Martinsen|
|F3||Alex DeBrincat - Victor Ejdsell - Dylan Sikura|
|F4||Patrick Sharp - David Kampf - Vinnie Hinostroza|
|D1||Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook|
|D2||Erik Gustafsson - Connor Murphy|
|D3||Blake Hillman - Jordan Oesterle|
|F1||Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler|
|F2||Nikolaj Ehlers - Paul Stastny - Patrik Laine|
|F3||Mathieu Perreault - Andrew Copp - Bryan Little|
|F4||Brandon Tanev - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia|
|D1||Josh Morrissey - Tyler Myers|
|D2||Joe Morrow - Dustin Byfuglien|
|D3||Ben Chiarot - Tucker Poolman|
*Lines are subject to change.
How to watch Blackhawks at Avalanche
Start time: 8 p.m. CT
Location: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV: NBC Sports Chicago