Prospects giving Blackhawks plenty to think about

Prospects giving Blackhawks plenty to think about

There are certain phrases that have become part of the Blackhawks’ vernacular. Coach Joel Quenneville has uttered one several times in the short time he’s been back in Chicago.

“We like tough decisions,” Quenneville said on Tuesday night.

If that’s the case, the Blackhawks have got to be loving their current situation.

Be it Alexandre Fortin, Gustav Forsling or Vinnie Hinostroza, among others, the Blackhawks are seeing some impressive performances from their prospects. That’s good, considering the vacancies, especially on the forward lines, the Blackhawks need to fill. The good impressions continued on Tuesday night, when those three, as well as Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman had great outings in the team’s 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

“We could talk about all of our young guys tonight,” Quenneville said following the game, “and it was positive in every facet.”

Hinostroza, who was moved back to the wing — he said he felt better there than at center — got his first goal of the preseason. His speed has been noticeable throughout. Schmaltz, back at center after playing some wing, tipped in his first goal. Hartman provided the net-front presence. Fortin lined up with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov and didn’t get rattled. Forsling was strong again and making some slick passes.

Yes, the situation isn’t so bad, really.


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“I would say it’s definitely deeper,” Quenneville said of this group of young players. “Definitely the type of ingredients that we’re looking for for our team, the addition of speed and depth and skill. To me, that’s the way the game is progressing, so I think it can be healthy and not just [for] these guys coming into our lineup. They’re going to be in some really important spots for us. So that could be a good sign.”

As previously written, some of the Blackhawks’ roster decisions also come down to contracts and playing time as much as preseason performances. There’s no doubt Fortin and Forsling have done some tremendous work this fall. They’ve turned heads, and they’ve turned the right heads. Do the Blackhawks see enough in Fortin to keep him here and burn the first season of his entry-level contract? Is there a place for Forsling among a defensive group that’s a lot deeper this season than it was the last? And if Forsling stays, you would think the Blackhawks would want to give him enough playing time to justify his staying here. As Quenneville always says about prospects, the team wants to keep them playing.

It sounds like some of these young hopefuls will get one more look on Saturday in the Blackhawks’ preseason finale against St. Louis. Decisions, decisions. The Blackhawks love when they have to make the tough ones. They’ve got to be enjoying their situation immensely right now.

“Nothing got sorted out [Tuesday]. [They] made it real difficult on us. It’s real positive organizationally,” Quenneville said. “These young guys, we need some of them. How many we need will be determined going forward, because they all enhanced their chances.”

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:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak


Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.