How will Blackhawks make up for Duncan Keith's absence?


How will Blackhawks make up for Duncan Keith's absence?

By Jeff Hamilton

WINNIPEG - Once the puck drops on Friday night’s game against the Jets, it will mark the official beginning of life without Duncan Keith.

Keith, who was suspended indefinitely by the NHL after he swung his stick and struck the face of Minnesota forward Charlie Coyle midway through the first period of Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Wild, will have to wait for a final decision from the Department of Player Safety after a phone hearing scheduled for Friday afternoon.

[RELATED - In Duncan Keith's absence, 'everyone can do a little more']

But while the seconds tick down to a final decision, the team has already begun to move forward without their all-star defenseman. And despite how difficult it will be to fill the shoes of a player who plays in every possible situation and logs the most ice time out of any of his teammates, it does open up a rare opportunity this late in the season: tryouts.

“I know that right down the stretch here we’ve got seven guys we have, we feel we have another guy that can help us as well,” said coach Joel Quenneville after the morning skate. “Their performance is going to dictate who’s going to be playing with who and the quality and the quantity of ice time that’s out there.”

For the meantime, Trevor van Riemsdyk will fill in for Keith on the top line alongside Niklas Hjalmarsson. Brent Seabrook, who missed last game with an illness, is back and will play beside Viktor Svedberg, with Michal Rozsival and Erik Gustafsson making up the third pairing.

Quenneville also hinted at some added responsibilities that could come into play tonight. He said he expects van Riemsdyk to see more time on the power play; same goes for Gustafsson and Svedberg, who will also see his penalty-kill minutes increase.

“There’s some big minutes and those are going to be important to manage and watch to see who’s taking advantage of them as well,” said Quenneville.

Up front, the Blackhawks will be without Marian Hossa, who is suffering from an illness and didn’t make the trip to Winnipeg. Thomas Fleischmann will move up to the right wing to play with Jonathan Toews and Andrew Ladd, while Brandon Mashinter will make his return to the lineup after sitting the last six games. He’ll play left wing on the third unit with Teuvo Teravainen and Dale Weise.

Artem Anisimov will also draw back into the lineup after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. He’ll reunite with Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane – a line that has been dangerous for most of the season but has slumped of late. 

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Kane has just two assists in his last five games, while Panarin has just two in his last nine and no points in his last three.

“I think that line has had some decent stretches, (but recently it’s) not the production that they set forth earlier on,” said Quenneville. “But they still get looks in games, they’re still dangerous (and) they get a lot of attention from our opponents.

“I still think every time they hit the ice they’re a threat to score and there’s a lot of danger in their game.”

Notes: The Blackhawks are 3-1 against the Jets this season, winning the last three games against their Central Division foe but 3-5-2 in their last 10…Scott Darling will make his eighth straight start. In 25 games this season, he has a record of 9-8-3 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage…Patrick Kane has three goals and two assists for five points in four games against the Jets this season.

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center


Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: