John Hayden

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Wild: Counting on goaltending too much?

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Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Wild: Counting on goaltending too much?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night:
 
1. The power play is still quiet.

The Blackhawks had two opportunities on Thursday; the first was forgettable while the second generated more chances but still ended with no production. And with that, the Blackhawks’ power play is now 3-for-18 on the season. Hey, a struggling power play is a running theme with this team so this shouldn’t be a total surprise. 
 
2. Counting on goaltending too much again?

It seemed that way for the first half of this one, anyway. The Wild didn’t have many more shots than the Blackhawks but they had better scoring opportunities. Crawford was up to it for most of this one until things got interesting in the third period. 
 
3. John Hayden’s shot.

The Blackhawks fourth liner has been a physical presence since the start of training camp and he’s had a few fights. He had another melee on Thursday night, sparring with Marcus Foligno and landing a huge right to Foligno’s jaw at the end of it.
 
4. Getting a little weary?

The Wild were playing in just their third game of the season on Thursday. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, played their fifth in the last seven days. It’s still early but that’s a lot of hockey in a week.

The Blackhawks did a lot of good things over the past week but after a busy stretch, Friday’s rest day is necessary. 
 
5. The Blackhawks miss Nick Schmaltz (a lot).

This one is becoming more evident with each passing game. The second line certainly could use him; Patrick Kane hasn’t had a point, nor has he had as many opportunities, since Schmaltz suffered his upper-body injury against Columbus.

Quenneville has switched up the bottom three lines looking to spark the offense. But there’s good news on Schmaltz: skated on Thursday morning and the Blackhawks are hoping the center will return on Saturday.

Blackhawks putting finishing touches on 23-man Opening Day roster

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Blackhawks putting finishing touches on 23-man Opening Day roster

The Blackhawks are putting the finishing touches on their 23-man Opening Day roster, sending Vinnie Hinostroza to the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs and placing forwards Tomas Jurco and Jordin Tootoo, and goaltender J-F Berube on waivers Monday. Michal Rozsival was also placed on long-term injured reserve.

The roster now sits at 27 players (16 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders), but will be reduced to 24 once those other three clear waivers (or get claimed by another team).

That leaves us with one more cut.

Cody Franson, who's on a professional tryout agreement with the Blackhawks, has made it this far without getting the ax, and he's certainly performed well enough in training camp and preseason to earn an opportunituy to at least be in the mix on that blue line. All indications point to the 30-year-old defenseman signing a short-term deal with Chicago after roster space is cleared up, meaning he will likely be the final cut — for now — to get the team down to 23.

Marian Hossa needs to be on the roster Day 1, where he is then expected to be placed on LTIR.

Top prospect Alex DeBrincat has secured a spot, as has Lance Bouma, John Hayden, Tommy Wingels and defensemen Jordan Oesterle and Jan Rutta.

The challenging part may be becoming cap compliant by Wednesday, so it will be interesting to see how that affects the final roster decisions. But if there's anyone that has become an expert at navigating the salary cap though, it's Stan Bowman.

John Hayden doing his part to earn Blackhawks roster spot

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John Hayden doing his part to earn Blackhawks roster spot

John Hayden knew the situation entering this training camp: he was one of several young players looking for an opportunity with a Blackhawks team that, after some offseason signings, didn’t have a lot of spots available.

“I mean, since I got here I knew it’d be competitive. I’ve just tried to control what I can and that’s my play,” Hayden said on Friday. “I just have to work hard and feel more comfortable and understand the game a little better each day.”

Hayden has worked hard, having one of the standout camps that coach Joel Quenneville has mentioned on a regular basis. In a few days the Blackhawks will make their final cuts and it’s still a question whether or not Hayden will be among them. But considering what he’s done to this point, the Blackhawks seriously need to consider starting the season with him in Chicago.

“He looks like he’s working his tail off every single day. Every single shift is important to him,” Quenneville said. “He’s got the attitude you’re hoping for a guy who’s looking to make a roster spot or taking a roster spot and showing he’ll do whatever it takes. He continues to do it.”

Hayden was part of the Blackhawks’ fourth line on Friday, and if that holds tomorrow he’ll get one last preseason game for an audition. Obviously the Blackhawks aren’t totally new to him. Hayden got several games in last spring after finishing up his senior season at Yale. But it was all new to him there were some up and down moments and he was balancing a little schoolwork along with his pro hockey debut. Hayden recognized what he needed to improve and did so this summer, working with Ben Prentiss, who has trained pro hockey players for nearly two decades.

“What’s great about that gym is they’re always giving us new things to work on, new philosophies. There are always new developments as far as nutrition. Same goes for strength and conditioning. I was fortunate to work at that gym,” Hayden said. “It’s really about keeping up to the pace of this game. It’s so fast at this level.”

Alex DeBrincat looks like he’s carved out a spot on this team; he’s transitioned very well to the pro game and right now could be getting an opportunity. Hayden should get a chance as well. The Blackhawks could benefit from his size, physical play and scoring touch in the bottom six of the lineup. Hayden knew it was going to be tough to make this roster, but as of now it looks like he’s done everything to make it.

“You just control what you can and that’s my play, I put the work in for the offseason and now I have to play my game,” Hayden said. “At the end of the day there’s opportunity here. That’s the motivation.”