Blackhawks

Five things from Blackhawks-Bruins: Last looks and lower-body injuries

Five things from Blackhawks-Bruins: Last looks and lower-body injuries

The Blackhawks wrapped up their preseason schedule on Saturday night. But how was their health at the end of the night? Let’s talk about that and a few other items in the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins.

1. “I think they’ll be all right.” Neither Jonathan Toews nor Connor Murphy were on the bench at the end of Saturday’s game — Murphy went off with about 4:40 remaining in regulation and Toews, who took a puck off his leg in the third period, came back before leaving again. Both appeared to suffer lower-body injuries, but coach Joel Quenneville said that both should be OK. “We’ll know more tomorrow,” he added. As Patrick Sharp said, “that’s the one thing you don’t want to do in that last game is lose some bodies. We’ll see how they’re doing. Hopefully everybody’s OK and ready to go in a couple of days.”

2. Corey Crawford finishes strong. Crawford’s last outing against the Bruins in Boston was a rough one. He made up for it tonight, closing out the preseason with a 38-stop shutout. While the rest of the Blackhawks looked sluggish overall, Crawford was outstanding. Again, we’re only dealing with a two-week sample size, but with Crawford maintaining form and Anton Forsberg having two good outings, the Blackhawks’ goaltending situation should be all right.

3. Alex DeBrincat takes a third-line spin. The Blackhawks have put the 19-year-old with a couple of different combinations. And after joining Artem Anisimov and Ryan Hartman at the Blackhawks’ first practice at Notre Dame on Sunday, that’s where DeBrincat was in the preseason finale. Overall, the Blackhawks looked just a little off, so this wasn’t the most telling look of that trio. But Quenneville was very happy with DeBrincat again.

4. Another good night for Jan Rutta. The Blackhawks beat out a few teams vying for the Czech defenseman’s services, signing him to a one-year deal over the summer. He’s had a good camp and capped it with another solid outing on Saturday night. Rutta, paired with fellow Czech Michal Kempny, has looked poised throughout and gives the Blackhawks another option on the blue line.

5. Is this the Blackhawks’ opening night lineup? As Quenneville said after the game, “possibly.” The Blackhawks will likely make their final roster decisions on Monday, and considering the camps DeBrincat and John Hayden have had, they’ve earned opportunities. But remember: on the opening night of the season Marian Hossa must still be on this roster. So don’t worry so much about the Blackhawks’ roster on the NHL’s opening night (Wednesday); keep an eye on what it is on the team’s opening night (Thursday).

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

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Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

Lance Bouma took his place at fourth-line left wing as the Blackhawks rolled their forward rushes on Tuesday morning. As the Blackhawks have tinkered with their trios, Bouma, whose final two seasons with the Calgary Flames were filled with uncertainty, has found a consistent role in this lineup.

“Obviously I was brought here for a reason,” Bouma said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in Calgary. To come here to Chicago and have that role, it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Blackhawks knew what they wanted from Bouma and his fellow fourth liners: some physical play, some energy and if there are any scoring opportunities, bonus. It’s a second chance for Bouma, whose contract was terminated by the Flames on June 30.

“I think it’s definitely a motivator knowing that you get in that situation where all of a sudden, ‘OK, I have to almost start over again and I have to prove to a new team that I belong in this league and I can play,’” coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “There are always circumstances where teams make decisions like that. We’ve been a part of it. And moving forward as a player, you’ve gotta look at it as a fresh opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get back to playing your game.”

After recording 16 goals and 18 assists in the 2014-15 season, Bouma signed a three-year, $6.6 million deal with the Flames. The next two seasons didn’t go as planned as Bouma dealt with injuries, inconsistent play and healthy scratches. So getting that call from the Blackhawks was a huge lift.

“I was just looking forward to a fresh start and something new,” he said. “I just was ready to come into camp and have a great season and it’s been great so far.”

[MORE: Eddie Olczyk expected to return to broadcasting booth this week

Tommy Wingels, who has centered the Blackhawks’ fourth line the last several games – and will again vs. St. Louis on Wednesday – said Bouma looks “refreshed” this season.

“Obviously whether it’s a team doesn’t want to bring you back or it’s a trade or buyout, there’s certainly something that deep down gets you going,” Wingels said. “I think it was a good summer for him mentally to come to a new organization, come to a new group of guys and re-establish his game. It’s tough when you’re with the same coaches, same team for so long; maybe what you do gets taken for granted. He looks good and he’s skating really well and I think he moves really well for a big man. He’s strong on the pucks and he’s a good asset for us.

Bouma isn’t here to be a top-six player. He’s not here to fulfill a contract that he no longer has. The Blackhawks needed depth, energy and a physical presence and in brining that, Bouma has earned steady work.  

“We knew the player coming in that we wanted him to play that style and he’s done a good job of it, too,” Quenneville said of Bouma. “So it’s something we were looking for in our needs and it fit perfectly."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle discuss Nick Schmaltz returning to the Blackhawks line-up on Wednesday night and which player is looking forward most to his return?

They also weigh in on Corey Crawford’s incredible start to the season and why he’s the major reason why the Hawks begin the week in first place in the Central.

They also discuss who is the biggest Hawks rivalry right now, which new defenseman has impressed the most and how is Connor Murphy dealing with being a healthy scratch at times this season?

Plus, they discuss someone other than Nick Schmaltz returning to work on Wednesday night.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: