Hawks v. Wild – Fortin Debuts
It was originally reported that Alexandre Fortin was recalled solely as an emergency player allowing Andreas Martinsen to nurse a day-to-day back injury in Chicago. Well, it now appears that Fortin is getting his shot at NHL game #1.
"The Blackhawks are looking for Fortin to bring speed to the game, likely on the third line with Chris Kunitz and Artem Anisimov – as seen in practice on Wednesday" (source: www.chicagoblackhawks.com).
I'm really shocked that Alex Fortin was the first call-up in this early season. I had heard the Hawks were really pleased with Matthew Highmore's camp and wanted to get him back to the Hawks if the opportunity came up.
Evidentially, the Hawks really want to see what Fortin can bring at the NHL level.
I would have thought that Fortin would have had to build his stock back up after an injury-riddled year in 2017-18 saw him score just 4 goals in 53 games in the AHL. He wasn't even in the picture come playoff time either, only sneaking into 1 game for Colliton's IceHogs.
I chatted to someone who thought that Fortin was a Q request as he views his skill set and potential to be higher than most forwards in Rockford right now.
While that 3rd line of Kunitz-AA-Kampf has been a pleasant surprise through 3 games, consistent production from that line was always going to be an issue. With Fortin being inserted, Quenneville can incorporate a speed burst on that line, and hopefully, a player that can finish.
It goes without being said that that 3rd line will be extremely important to the Hawks success. With Toews and Kane leading the way on L1 and L2, the bottom 6 needs to chip in with the odd goals.
Luke Johnson appears to be the odd man out which is fine. The 24-year old will watch the game from the press box and look to fight his way back into the lineup.
On that note, I know they really want Johnson to play centre, which I like him in his natural position because he could very well be the 4th line centre of the future, but Marcus Kruger does not look comfortable on the wing.
For all the flack Kruger has received over the years, he actually looked really good in the preseason as the Hawks 4th line pivot again. I think you have to keep him there and if that means sending Johnson down to get regular playing time in Rockford, then so be it. You know you have him there for the first call-up to fill in the bottom 6 C role when needed.
Next, will Brandon Davidson get his first game in tomorrow night? Q wouldn't divulge who he's going with, but Davidson, Manning and Rutta all rotated on that bottom pairing at practice yesterday.
If it were me, I would play him on his off-side (which he's capable of and we witnessed during the preseason) with Manning. I have been less-than-impressed with Rutta so far this season and would love to see him take a seat. This would also allow Davidson to get a game in on the road to get his feet under him for his first game as a Blackhawk.
Speaking of the defence, Gustav Forsling skated with the team at yesterday's practice. As per Q: "we'll want him playing right off the bat" when asked about Forsling. When questioned about carrying 8 D, he kind of bypassed that part, but reiterating "we'll want him playing right away."
Therefore, something has to give, which is another reason to see what you have in Brandon Davidson. If he looks like a valuable piece, maybe you want to keep him and test the trade market for Rutta. I can't imagine there is much out there for the 28-year old righty, but you never know. A team might look at how Michal Kempny flourished after getting away from Coach Q and might take a chance to see if they can unleash another Czech defender.
The Hawks and Wild battle tonight at 7 pm CST in MN.
The Wild have only played 2 games to date and have had an opposite, well let's call it much more boring start to their season.
While the Hawks have 15 GF / 14 GA in a goal induced start to their season, the Wild have found the back of the net twice in the 2 games and giving up 5 against.
Goals are really fun. However, I wouldn't be opposed to see the Hawks reel it in and see them in a 2-1 or heck, even a 3-2 type game.
Below, we have the early season fight cards:
Blackhawks: 2-0-1 (5 points)
15 GF = 3rd
14 GA = 27th
0.0% PP = ummm… T-Last
63.6 PK% = 30th
47.0 FO% = 25th
Who we got tonight: Minnesota Wild
Season Matchup in 2017-18:
Chicago – 2-3-0
Minnesota – 3-2-0
Minnesota Wild: 0-1-1 (1 point)
2 GF = 28th
5 GA = 24th
0% PP = ummm… also T-Last
83.3 PK% = 10th
52.7 FO% = 8th
JL's player to watch: Matthew Dumba is fresh off of signing a 5-year / $30M deal. A contract that pays him like a top pairing defender and he showed last season in a career 50-point year that he was capable of that. He's averaging 24+ mins TOI so far, has a goal and 10 hits.
See ya out there,