Blackhawks

Bolland, Smith out Friday; Hawks recall Pirri

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Bolland, Smith out Friday; Hawks recall Pirri

READ: Kane embracing new roleREAD: Bolland, Smith questionable for openerWATCH: Mikita discusses new book on CTL

The Chicago Blackhawks will start their season without Dave Bolland, but there's hope the center will return for Saturday night's home opener.

Bolland practiced for the first time in over a week on Thursday, as he was sidelined with an upper body injury. Bolland, who will not play in Dallas on Friday night, said this injury was not related to his concussion and back problems of the past. Nevertheless it's one more injury for Bolland, who has struggled with them plenty already.

"You always wish you could stay healthy but little things can come out of nowhere," he said. "You're working hard out there and you wish you could get through a whole career with no injury. But some guys it happens to and some guys it doesn't. It's just the way things happen."

Forward Ben Smith did not practice at all on Thursday and is also out for Friday. Smith is still coming back from a concussion he sustained last week against the Detroit Red Wings and has not been cleared for contact. Asked if Smith not practicing was a setback, coach Joel Quenneville said, "it's part of the process."

Quenneville said it's possible the Blackhawks dress seven defensemen Friday.

Meanwhile, Brandon Pirri was recalled from Rockford and will play Friday. Pirri was centering Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik at Thursday's practice and Quenneville said he could play some with them in the season opener. Pirri wants to make the most of the opportunity.

"If I'm lucky enough to play a couple years in this league, it'll be the same feeling every game. This is just a childhood dream to play in the NHL," said Pirri, who had five points in the preseason. "I wanted to feel confident playing; that's when I play my best."

Montador adjusting

Defenseman Steve Montador said it's been an adjustment to the Blackhawks this preseason. But he said he's felt better about his game as camp's continued.

"It's been an adjustment but I'm as comfortable as I've ever been being here. I know when I'm in the right place," said Montador, who was paired with John Scott in Thursday's practice. "There's a lot of adjustment but I'm in a good place now."

Montador, who signed a four-year deal with the Blackhawks this offseason, didn't talk of specific adjustments. He's getting used to a new system and teammates, which could always be part of it. Coach Joel Quenneville said Montador had a "so-so camp" but improved as it went along -- "once he gets more acclimated and comfortable his game will get to where it needs to be," Quenneville said.

Montador said the same.

"I wouldn't say i was overall happy with it all, but that's a benefit that the games don't count. They're gone and now it's the regular season," he said. "It just takes time on some things, and time is taking time."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.