The Blackhawks round out the current road trip in Columbus. The last series included a 6-5 barn burner loss and an overtime win that featured a fight between Brandon Hagel and Patrik Laine.
The Hawks will be without center Dylan Strome (concussion protocol) and defenseman Lucas Carlsson (strained groin). Connor Murphy is set to return after a stint on IR due to a hip injury.
Game 20, February 23:
Blackhawks @ Blue Jackets
Blackhawks, 9-6-4, 22 Pts (4th)
Blue Jackets, 8-7-4, 20 Pts (5th)
Blackhawks, 19-59, 32.2% (5th)
Blue Jackets, 7-46, 15.2% (23rd)
Blackhawks, 48-60, 80.0% (12th)
Blue Jackets, 31-42, 73.8% (26th)
The Hawks will need to contain Laine's line with Jack Roslovic and Cam Atkinson as the latter two have lit up Chicago in the previous outings. Boone Jenner is one to watch as well.
For Columbus, Gustav Nyquist and Elvis Merzlikins are injured and unavailable for the series. However, at least David Savard and possibly Zach Werenski could be ready to play.
Also, neither the Hawks nor the Jackets have any players on the NHL COVID-19 Protocol List.
The Jackets projected lineup (per DailyFaceoff.com):
Laine - Roslovic - Atkinson
Jenner - Texier - Foligno
Grigorenko - Stenlund - Bjorkstrand
Robinson - Nash - Domi
Gavrikov - Jones
Del Zotto - Peeke
Harrington - Carlsson
For the Chicago lineup, the 11F/7D format could stay intact as Murphy may be well enough to rejoin the blueline. Adam Boqvist, Ian Mitchell, and Nicolas Beaudin would be the youth D rotation.
Possible defense pairs:
Keith - Mitchell
de Haan - Murphy
Zadorov - Boqvist
However, if the coaches revert back to 6D, expect Boqvist or Beaudin to be the potential healthy scratch.
Assuming the forward ranks remain at 11F, Lucas Wallmark should draw in for Strome as Matthew Highmore would be press boxed. However, Highmore suits up if the lineup goes up to 12F.
Possible forward lines:
DeBrincat - Suter - Kane
Kurashev - Soderberg - Kubalik
Janmark - Wallmark - Hagel
(Highmore) - Kampf - Carpenter
In net, Kevin Lankinen should get at least tonight's start as a chance to rebound from his 5-3 loss in Carolina (the last goal was an empty netter) and possibly Thursday's start as well.
Malcolm Subban should get the nod in at least one of this weekend's games when the Hawks host Detroit. This series could also be as good as any for Collin Delia to get his next chance.
The Cleveland Monsters thumped the IceHogs 7-3 in the first of a four-game set. The Hogs exhibited poor gap management and passing from start to finish. Cale Morris made his pro debut in net.
1st Goal: Dalpe (0-1)
Former Hogs captain Tyler Sikura beat Michael Krutil zipping along the left flank and dished to Zac Dalpe in the slot for the marker. Isaak Phillips focused on the puck rather than Dalpe.
2nd Goal: Dalpe (0-2)
Eleven seconds later, Dalpe picked up his second goal of the game as Krutil and Phillips both covered Trey Fix-Wolansky which allowed Dalpe to sneak into an open seam for the shot.
3rd Goal: Meyer (0-3)
Carson Meyer received a stretch pass from Wyatt Newpower then split the Hogs defense by blazing past Dmitry Osipov and Krutil at the far blueline. Krutil had brutal coverage all game long.
4th Goal: Wilkie (1-3) SH
While on the PK, Mitch Fossier was aggressive on the forecheck and was able to strip the puck from goalie Brad Thiessen behind the cage then find Chris Wilkie in the low right circle for the score.
5th Goal: Morrison (2-3)
In another goal manufactured by a strong forecheck, MacKenzie Entwistle pickpocketed a Cleveland defender, beat another one, circled around the net, and fed Brad Morrison who roofed it.
6th Goal: Fix-Wolansky (2-4) PP
Fix-Wolansky registered the first of two Monster power play goals after quick puck movement by the entire Cleveland unit then rifled a shot from the right circle as Sikura screened Matt Tomkins.
7th Goal: Meyer (2-5)
After a faceoff win by the Monsters, Meyer collected his second goal of the game with a shot from the left circle that trickled under Tomkins and slowly slid past the goal line.
8th Goal: Scott (2-6) SH
The Monsters got their own shorty as Justin Scott forced Cody Franson to turn over the puck at the Hogs offensive blueline. Scott was then off to the races for a breakaway tally.
9th Goal: Fossier (3-6)
On an individual effort, Fossier intercepted an errant pass by Thomas Schmeitsch between the circles. Far from the Patrick Kane version but Fossier used a spinorama backhander to fool Thiessen.
10th Goal: Gerbe (3-7) PP
Taking a chapter out of the Alex DeBrincat playbook on the power play, Nathan Gerbe ripped a one timer on a backdoor play after swift movement of the puck around the offensive zone.
Entwistle has been playing with more confidence since leaving the Blackhawks taxi squad. Not just a defensive specialist, he danced with the puck on offense and got to scoring areas regularly.
A fierce forechecker, Andrei Altybarmakian is adept at fishing out pucks. Yet, like former Hogs winger Alexandre Fortin, he often runs out of runway speeding to areas then can't make a play.
Fossier and Wilkie as well as Chad Yetman -- who was scratched for last night's game -- are quietly proving to be effective forecheckers and reliable defensively at ES and on the PK.
Like the parent club, the Hogs went with 11F/7D last night and it turned out to be necessary as Chad Krys left the bench part way through the 1st period. His condition is unknown at time of print.
Morris' relief appearance was his first game on the pro stage. He made 13 saves on 14 shots, all in the 3rd period. It wouldn't be surprising if he's between the pipes again in tonight's game.
See you on the boards!