Blackhawks

Marko Dano among Blackhawks reassigned to Rockford

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Marko Dano among Blackhawks reassigned to Rockford

Marko Dano was expected to be part of the Blackhawks this season, and he still could be. But for now, he’ll start his season in the American Hockey League.

Dano was one of several players reassigned to the IceHogs as the Blackhawks made roster moves on Friday. Coach Joel Quenneville said the move was made mainly to get Dano acclimated to the Blackhawks’ system.

“He’s a young player. He had a decent camp, and he was ordinary in a couple of games. We want him getting pace into his game and getting our system in tune to his game,” Quenneville said. “We just want him playing. There are a lot of guys who were in the same boat,” Quenneville said. “We sent a lot of guys who were competing for the same opportunities here who, down the road, can play. Right now, get playing and hopefully they’re the first ones to get back.”

The Blackhawks’ roster is now at 25.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Report: Blackhawks place Bryan Bickell on waivers]

The 20-year-old Dano was part of the deal that sent Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He started training camp on the Blackhawks’ top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa but was part of other combinations as camp continued. Quenneville said he talked to Dano about the move, which could benefit Dano moving forward. It’s not the first time the Blackhawks have sent players to Rockford to hone their games — Teuvo Teravainen made a trip or two to Rockford last season and was one of the team’s best players during the postseason.

“When players go down, sometimes players have the tendency to take a while to come around from the shock or disappointment. I think the sooner they get out of that process and get back to knowing, ‘Hey, I’ve got to play my game and my performance will get me here,’ that’s the best remedy for everybody,” Quenneville said. “Get playing hard, get playing well and eventually you get your turn.”

The others reassigned to the IceHogs were: Ryan Hartman, Vincent Hinostroza, Brandon Mashinter, Dennis Rasmussen, Garret Ross, Erik Gustafsson and Ville Pokka. The team’s active roster now includes 13 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.

With Connor Murphy set to return, Blackhawks reassign Adam Boqvist to Rockford

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USA TODAY

With Connor Murphy set to return, Blackhawks reassign Adam Boqvist to Rockford

The Blackhawks announced Thursday morning that they have reassigned top defenseman prospect Adam Boqvist to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 19-year-old Swedish defenseman appeared in six games for the Blackhawks and averaged 14:27 of ice time. He scored his first career NHL goal in his second appearance in a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 2.

But with Connor Murphy (groin) eligible to come off long-term injured reserve on Saturday, the Blackhawks had to make a corresponding move to become cap compliant and Boqvist was the obvious candidate to be sent back down.

He’s still in the early stages of his development, but Boqvist certainly held his own at the NHL level during his brief stint. The Blackhawks want him to continue playing top pairing minutes and in all situations, and it would’ve been difficult for him to do that in Chicago with Murphy returning to the lineup.

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Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner tandem proving to be exactly what Blackhawks envisioned

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AP

Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner tandem proving to be exactly what Blackhawks envisioned

LAS VEGAS — The first day of NHL free agency is always exciting for hockey fans, particularly the first hour when most of the moves are announced at a rapid rate. Last offseason, the Blackhawks had a quiet few hours before dropping the hammer on the most surprising signing of the day, Robin Lehner, to a one-year deal.

“I think we have the best 1-2 punch in the league is the way I look at it right now,” GM Stan Bowman said on July 1. “I certainly feel really comfortable going into next season, whether Corey Crawford’s in net or Robin Lehner’s in net.”

So does the entire city of Chicago.

More than one month into the 2019-20 season, the goaltending tandem between Crawford and Lehner is exactly what the Blackhawks envisioned it would be. That’s what happens when you pair a Vezina Trophy finalist with a two-time Stanley Cup winner.

"We got two guys who are outstanding," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I think they're both going real well now and that's a huge advantage for us no matter who's in the net, we're getting a chance to win. It gives our guys a chance to come through offensively, so they've been big for us."

After starting the season 1-4-0 with a 3.67 goals-against average and .888 percentage, Crawford has been lights out since the calendar flipped to November. He’s 2-0-2 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in his last four starts, which includes a 39-save performance in a 5-3 win over the Golden Knights on Wednesday.

Lehner has been one of the league’s best from the beginning. His .934 save percentage ranks second among goaltenders with at least six appearances and his goals saved above average at 5-on-5 ranks fourth-best, according to Natural Stat Trick. Crawford's goals saved above average of 4.21 puts him at ninth.

And this is despite the fact the Blackhawks are giving up the most shots on goal per game (37.1), second-most high danger chances per 60 minutes at even strength (13.1) and third-most scoring chances per 60 minutes at even strength (29.2).

While the dynamic may have been awkward at first, both goaltenders appear to be making the best of the circumstances and view it as healthy competition.

"I mean, he's doing a great job," Crawford said of Lehner. "Definitely keeping us in games or being a big factor in some wins. I think both of us are just trying to be at our best when we get the chance."

The challenging part of the situation is getting both guys a fair amount of starts. Crawford has been vocal about preferring to start regularly — “it’s a little bit easier when you keep playing games in a row” — and Lehner no doubt feels the same.

"They both want to play 60 games, 80 games maybe,” Colliton said. “That's part of the team. [Patrick Kane] wants to play 60 minutes. It's how it is. Ultimately, we want to make decisions that help the team win and part of that is keeping both guys fresh, keeping both guys playing at a high level and I think that's going to be a benefit for us as the season goes on."

It’s a good problem to have if you’re the Blackhawks, especially if Crawford and Lehner are at the top of their games at the same time like they are right now.

"It's great," Calvin de Haan said. "I think goaltending's the most important position. If you're not keeping the puck out of the net, you're not going to win a lot of games. But those guys are giving us a chance every night and it's really evident the past few weeks here."

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