Sometimes you look at these preseason rosters and think — you know what, that’s not even the Blackhawks’ B team. That’s like, B-and-a-half. C, even. When the most legitimate NHLers on the roster are Trevor van Riemsdyk and Erik Gustafsson — and when most of your top prospects are scratches — you know you’re going to have a doozy of a game.
Detroit wasn’t exactly icing their A team either, but at least featured more NHL talent or players right on the cusp of a full time roster spot, and they were backstopped by Petr Mrazek. So it was at least a B+ team, if we’re ranking them.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, split the game in net between Lars Johansson and Ivan Nalimov, a Russian prospect drafted late in 2014. Nalimov’s been playing in the KHL since his draft year and hasn’t seen much North American ice since. He’s struggled with his team this season, and the Blackhawks have brought him over for an evaluation in the pre-season.
If this game was Nalimov’s audition for the organization, well, let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. The Red Wings scored on their first shot on goal, and just about a minute later, scored on their third shot, too. The first goal, scored by Luke Glendening, slid right under Nalimov’s pads. The second goal, from Martin Frk, went in much the same way. It wasn’t exactly an inspiring start to the game.
Overall, the game was pretty dismal and not at all representative of what fans hope the Blackhawks will be capable of producing come opening night.
There were a few bright spots in the game, though, and one of them belonged to Alexandre Fortin, who’s still making his case to stick around on the team.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 2, 2016
Fortin finally got to show off his skill on the big stage, getting the Blackhawks on the board with some slick moves in front of Mrazek.
And really, that was about it.
Oh, wait. There was this.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 3, 2016
Brandon Mashinter. Breakaway goal. That’s something that happened to all of us.
Mashinter somehow frequently looked like the most capable player on ice, registering a team high four shots on goal. (The team as a whole combined for fourteen, so that’s pretty significant.) (Detroit got thirteen shots alone in the second period.) (Sigh.) Dennis Rasmussen, also fighting for a spot in the bottom six, put in a nifty no-look goal of his own. They were just about the only bright spots in an underwhelming game.
Lars Johansson came in midway through the second period and had an equally rough time to Nalimov. Johansson surrendered a goal on the first shot that he faced as well. Both goalies got stronger as the game went on, but the Blackhawks weren’t able to pull themselves out of the hole the early first period had created.
Overall, the game wasn’t much to write home about, and you can’t base many assumptions about the team’s future off of it.
The Blackhawks face off against the Red Wings tonight and are bringing — let’s call it the A- team. Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford are expected to make their preseason debuts. Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, Marcus Kruger, and other regular NHLers will be in as well.
Some final thoughts:
- Thanks to a high hit against Ty Rattie in the St. Louis game, Niklas Hjalmarsson has been suspended for the remainder of the preseason and the first regular season game.
- The Blackhawks sent several players back to Rockford; the only one that was somewhat of a surprise was Tanner Kero, who’d been having a good camp so far. Viktor Svedberg passed through waivers unclaimed, so the incredibly large defenseman will be spending some more time in Rockford this year. Erik Gustafsson was also returned to Rockford after a somewhat shaky camp. He’s proven he’s got NHL talent, so hopefully some time in Rockford to help rediscover his game will do him good.
- As the preseason winds down, I’m still waiting for Nick Schmaltz to make more of an impression. He’s a great player, I’ve seen him do it with my own eyes, but so far his camp’s been “just okay”, to take a page from Quenneville’s dictionary. Tyler Motte, Vinnie Hinostroza, both less heralded prospects, have been far more noticeable than Schmaltz. Perhaps he just needs to be paired with more NHL-caliber linemates, but at this point, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him spend some time in Rockford.
- Gustav Forsling and Alexandre Fortin continue to make it really difficult for the Blackhawks to send them home. I can’t even speculate what’s going to happen with them but they’ve both proven that they’re ready for a spot on this team.
(Photo: Sarah Avampato)