Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger out 2-3 weeks, Marian Hossa still out for Winter Classic

Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger out 2-3 weeks, Marian Hossa still out for Winter Classic

ST. LOUIS – Marian Hossa will not play and Marcus Kruger will be out for about three weeks as the rest of the Blackhawks practiced for the Winter Classic on Sunday.

Hossa (upper body) did skate on Sunday back in Chicago. Coach Joel Quenneville is hopeful that Hossa is ready for Thursday, when the Blackhawks host the Buffalo Sabres.

Corey Crawford is expected to start Monday vs. the St. Louis Blues.

Kruger was placed on injured reserve on Sunday afternoon. With Kruger out, Tanner Kero took his spot on the third line with Dennis Rasmussen and Richard Panik. Andrew Desjardins centered the fourth line with Tyler Motte and Jordin Tootoo. The top two lines remained the same.

[SHOP: Gear up Blackhawks fans!]

As for how Quenneville feels about his center situation without Kruger, he said they’ll adjust as they go. Rasmussen and Vinnie Hinostroza could also help at center.

“Those [options] are all vital in games where we’ll probably be using them in situations, faceoffs or three-line look. Sometimes you may look at the top-line guys getting a little more,” Quenneville said. “Kero, in the short amount of time he’s been here, has done a nice job for us and gives responsibility defensively. Desi hasn’t played a ton at center but has the ability to play there. But we have a lot of guys who can be moved.”

Alex Nylander making strong first impression, but will he start 2019-20 season with Blackhawks?

Alex Nylander making strong first impression, but will he start 2019-20 season with Blackhawks?

The Blackhawks are a team that likes to take chances on young players who were highly regarded coming out of their draft but have underachieved to start their professional careers.

Take Brendan Perlini and Dylan Strome for example. Both of them are former first-round picks, with Strome being drafted No. 3 overall in 2015. 

Alex Nylander is somebody who falls under this category. Taken No. 8 overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2016, he put up decent numbers in the AHL but couldn’t take that next step in the NHL and hasn’t been able to stick. He's trying to change that in Chicago after being acquired by the organization in the summer for Henri Jokiharju.

"I'm just trying to work hard every shift, be consistent out there and just play my game," Nylander said. "Make plays and be good defensively as well."

Nylander has been a standout in Blackhawks training camp so far. He shined in Sunday’s team scrimmage at the United Center by scoring a highlight-reel penalty shot goal and followed that up with a multi-point effort in his preseason debut on Monday, scoring a goal and adding an assist against Washington.

It's the consistency and how he plays when he doesn't have the puck that's going to determine whether he sticks with the big club and ultimately thrives.

"I just think learning how to play at a higher pace away from the puck," Jeremy Colliton said. "He is a good skater. He can fly. You can see when he's hunting, he's on offense, he can really skate. We're going to want him to show us that persistence away from the puck to try and get it back. Obviously when his teammates have the puck (or) when he has the puck — when he's on offense — he's a terrific player. He can be a real asset for us. So we want him to put himself in those situations as much as he can."

There are legitimately eight or nine forwards that are competing for the two or three roster spots on Opening Night. Nylander is one of them. He has such an elite offensive skillset that it's hard to ignore him for one of them, and he's probably better off playing with guys who think the game the same way.

"He can make a lot of plays and he can see the ice as offensive players do," Colliton said. "He's got a great shot, great release. ... Having said that, for him, the more versatile he can show that he can be then it gives us more options and different places to fit him into the lineup. It's a lot easier to make the team. So he'll probably move around here as we go through preseason and see if there's a fit."

While Nylander, in the big picture, is simply competing for a spot on the 23-man roster, he also finds himself battling for a role within the team in the process. But he's not looking that far ahead.

"I'm just trying to do my best out here and take whatever is given to me," Nylander said. "Just do good, play my game and good things will happen I think. I've just been working really hard this summer and I'm trying to take that with me from the past three years in Buffalo and try to be the best player I can be.”

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks drop preseason opener to Capitals in overtime

Four takeaways: Blackhawks drop preseason opener to Capitals in overtime

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena in Monday's preseason opener:

1. Alex Nylander's impressive debut

The Blackhawks have about eight to nine forwards vying for a few spots on the Opening Night roster and Nylander is one of them. After standing out in Sunday's training camp festival at the United Center, he did so again in the Blackhawks' preseason opener in Washington.

Nylander scored a goal, added an assist and registered three shots on goal in 16:40 of ice time. The offensive upside is evident; it's all about whether he can put it together and do so on a consistent basis.

2. Adam Boqvist stands out

GM Stan Bowman revealed on the first day of training camp that Boqvist will be turning pro this season, and the 2018 No. 8 overall pick had a strong preseason debut on Monday.

Boqvist recorded a primary assist on Nylander's tally in the second period and later scored a pretty goal when he roofed one past Capitals netminder Pheonix Copley. He finished with four shot attempts (three on goal), two takeaways, two blocked shots and one giveaway in 16:10 of ice time. He was noticeable at both ends of the ice, which must be encouraging for the coaching staff.

3. Other standouts

— Aleksi Saarela was on a line with Nylander and David Kampf, and all three of them played well. The trio generated seven scoring chances at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick, and connected for two goals. Saarela was credited with the first after parking himself in front of the net and redirecting Gustafsson's shot from the point.

— Brendan Perlini had a strong finish to the game. He led all skaters with eight shot attempts and five shots on goal, registered two hits and one takeaway in 16:40 of ice time.

— Ryan Carpenter won eight of 13 faceoffs for a percentage of 61.5. Expect him to be relied on frequently for defensive zone draws this season.

4. Overtime winner

It was an entertaining 3-on-3 overtime for preseason hockey, but the Blackhawks came up on the losing end of it. Good thing the points don't count this time of year.

Dylan Sikura was caught playing the role as a defenseman and Tom Wilson took advantage by blowing right past him and putting it behind Collin Delia for the game winner:

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