Blackhawks

Blackhawks 'D' will adjust without Keith

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Blackhawks 'D' will adjust without Keith

The NHL has spoken and Duncan Keith has accepted his punishment: the Blackhawks defenseman will sit for the next five games for his elbow to Daniel Sedins jaw, rejoining the team for their final two regular-season games in Minnesota and Detroit.

But between now and then the Blackhawks have to press on without him. And much like the forwards had to adjust and take on responsibility in Jonathan Toews absence, the defensemen have to do the same during Keiths suspension. It will start Sunday night when the Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators.

Keith said he accepts the NHLs punishment and respects the job they do he didnt want to elaborate on some topics, including the talk he had with Brendan Shanahan or Sedins hit on him earlier in Wednesdays game. So while his teammates play on, Keith will try to take advantage of this down time as best he can.

Im going to get as much rest as I can, eat properly, get lots of sleep and be working out with Paul (Goodman, the Blackhawks strength and conditioning coach), Keith said. I want to keep sharp, stay in game shape, and Ill do that. I respect (the decision), Ill serve the five games and look forward to getting back.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks will adjust. Niklas Hjalmarsson will pair with Brent Seabrook while Sean ODonnell will return to the lineup and team with rookie Dylan Olsen. Nick Leddy and Johnny Oduya, who have formed a good pair since Oduya was acquired at the trade deadline, will stay together.

For Hjalmarsson, a chance to go against opponents top players is enticing.

Its a great challenge. I did it at the beginning of the season and I enjoy doing it, he said. Every nights a big challenge playing against the opponents top line, I love that.

Still, he knows playing more minutes will be an adjustment. Hjalmarsson played more than 20 minutes on Wednesday, but it was the first time hes played that much in a game since early February, before he suffered his concussion.

I havent been playing that much lately and Ive been gone for a while, he said. Itll be a real good test for me to see how I can hold up.

Keith has had his good and bad games this season. But one thing is certain: he can, and has, played a lot of minutes; and the remaining Blackhawks defensemen will have to pick those up.

Whether its more responsibility as far as quality of ice or more ice, everyone has to absorb something there, coach Joel Quenneville said. Nobodys being asked to play differently than they normally play. Hammer and Seabrook, theyve played together in the past and we have some familiarity there. We can make adjustments in games but were comfortable going in that it should work.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks fall to Red Wings, but there were plenty of positives

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks fall to Red Wings, but there were plenty of positives

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-3 preseason loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday:

1. Dominik Kubalik's big night

The Blackhawks acquired Kubalik's rights from the Los Angeles Kings in January for a fifth-round pick. And this could end up looking like a steal when it's all said and done.

GM Stan Bowman said in April that he expects Kubalik to be a solid offensive player for the Blackhawks this season, and the 24-year-old Czech native showed why.

Kubalik found the back of the net twice in his preseason debut, with the second one displaying his absolute rocket of a shot. That's his strength and he's going to be a player to watch for the Blackhawks this season and someone who certainly helped his case as the team looks to finalize its Opening Night roster in the coming weeks.

2. Hello, Philip Holm

The Blackhawks made a low-key signing in August when they agreed to a one-year deal with Holm, a 27-year-old Swedish defenseman who spent the 2018-19 season in the KHL. He might've been the most noticeable player on the ice in Detroit.

Holm scored a goal, added an assist, and led all skaters with 11 shot attempts (six on goal). He also registered a hit and one takeaway, and logged a game-high 21:58 of ice time. Add him to the list of guys who find themselves among the pool of players vying for everyday roster spots.

3. Robin Lehner and Kevin Lankinen split duties

Collin Delia started and finished the preseason opener in Washington, and the plan was for Lehner to do the same in Detroit but the coaching staff called an audible and decided to share the duties between he and Lankinen.

Lehner started the game and was sharp early on before allowing a goal to Red Wings forward Matt Puempel, which Lehner would've liked to have back. The second goal was a fluky one that was put in by his own player. There was nothing Lehner could do. He stopped 15 of 17 shots for a save percentage of .882, but overall it was a successful debut.

Lankinen replaced Lehner near the halfway mark of the second period and he was immediately tested. He faced 10 shots in the first 7:08, which included a Red Wings power play. Lankinen gave up two goals on 21 shots and finished with a .905 save percentage. He was good.

4. DeBrincat-Strome-Shaw trio effective

The Red Wings didn't dress any of their top players so this should be taken with a grain of salt, but the line of Alex DeBrincat, Andrew Shaw and Dylan Strome showed some good chemistry together. Shaw and Strome each recorded an assist, and the trio generated three scoring chances at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick.

DeBrincat, Shaw and Strome were also on the first power play unit together and recorded eight shot attempts (four on goal) and were on the ice for Kubalik's power-play goal that tied the game up at 3-3.

Note: DeBrincat had an injury scare in the final seconds of the first period when he got the worst of a knee-on-knee collison. He wasn't on the bench to start the second period, but he only missed a shift before returning.

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Mitch Trubisky named most concerning QB of Week 2

Mitch Trubisky named most concerning QB of Week 2

The Chicago Bears may have won their Week 2 game against the Denver Broncos, but the narrative around the team early in the 2019 season continues to be one of doubt because of the subpar play from Mitch Trubisky and the offense.

Trubisky has fallen way behind Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson in the 2017 draft class arms race, and it isn't particularly close. Mahomes is on a historic pace to start his career and Watson has been universally praised as the primary reason why the Houston Texans are a Super Bowl contender this year.

As for Trubisky? He was just named the league's most concerning quarterback.

In 2017, the Bears surrendered five draft picks to move up and select Trubisky at No. 2 overall, the kind of bounty reserved for players with transcendent potential. What we've seen since, however, is a franchise falling over itself to make the game as easy as it can for him.

It's hard to defend Trubisky at this point, even though he isn't playing any worse than he did at the start of 2018 before enjoying an uptick in production in Week 4 against the Buccaneers.

Expectations were high for Year 2 with Matt Nagy, however. Maybe too high. And they simply haven't been met through the first two games of the season. Trubisky has completed just 58.3% of his passes for 348 yards and zero touchdowns; hardly the kind of numbers expected from a former second pick overall.

Trubisky will have yet another chance to get his season on track in front of a national audience in Week 3's Monday night game against the Redskins.