Blackhawks

Tomas Fleischmann quickly adjusts to Blackhawks

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Tomas Fleischmann quickly adjusts to Blackhawks

When a player joins a new team it usually takes a little time to adjust. There are new teammates and usually new systems. You don’t fall into place easily.

Tomas Fleischmann did, however. The forward, who the Blackhawks got from the Montreal Canadiens before the trade deadline, looked like he needed no adjustment time whatsoever. Part of the Blackhawks’ third line with Andrew Desjardins and Teuvo Teravainen, Fleischmann was noticeable right away and scored his first goal with the Blackhawks against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.

Fleischmann said the Blackhawks made his transition easy.

“Actually I could say I felt pretty comfortable from the beginning because I felt guys on the team and every trainer and everyone was welcoming me,” he said following Saturday’s practice. “I felt, right away, part of the family. So that makes things easier.”

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Coach Joel Quenneville said Fleischmann adjusted immediately to his new linemates.

“I thought quickly he fit in with Teuvo on that line. He seems very useful in a lot of ways: positionally aware, he’s strong on the puck, sees plays, makes plays and good patience with it,” Quenneville said. “We used him on the penalty killing right off the bat. Looks good, so we have another penalty killer we can use, so he’s versatile in a lot of ways, can play all three forwards as well. We’re very happy with his contribution.”

That third line has looked much improved since Teravainen was moved to center. For Fleischmann, Teravainen’s good hockey sense was noticeable when he first teamed with the young Finn.

“He’s really good and a smart center man who can shoot and move the puck pretty well,” Fleischmann said. “So it’s easier for a winger, like myself, to play with him.”

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Fleischmann has made a few moves already in his career — this is the sixth NHL team with which he’s played. Perhaps that makes transitions easier when you’ve been through them previously. Whatever the reason Fleischmann has made an immediate impact with the Blackhawks.

“He’s one of those players who plays tenacious. He’s really good with the puck he has that sense with the puck: he makes really good plays but he’s also simple and smart,” Desjardins said. “He’s just an all-around player, really responsible defensively as well, which is good.”

UPDATES

- Marian Hossa skated after the Blackhawks ended practice. Quenneville said Hossa is out for Sunday but could play Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues.

- Marcus Kruger (wrist) also skated after practice. Regarding when Kruger could return, Quenneville said, “we expect him to be playing some games” before the end of the regular season.

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Detroit Red Wings.

- Brandon Mashinter did not practice on Saturday due to illness.

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Anton Forsberg cleared waivers on Tuesday morning and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

That's good news for the Blackhawks organizational depth chart, with Forsberg as the No. 3 in goal. But it also complicates things in Rockford, where Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have been sharing the duties.

Delia is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .910 save percentage while Lankinen is 0-1-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .825 save percentage. Perhaps the most likely scenario is Lankinen gets sent to the ECHL with the Indy Fuel while Delia and Forsberg split the load in Rockford.

It's certainly a good problem to have, but it's still unclear how that dynamic will play out.

"We haven’t talked about that," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect [Forsberg] to play."

Luke Johnson recalled

With a spot opening up on the 23-man roster, Johnson is being brought back up after he was squeezed out by Corey Crawford's return. He had a goal and an assist in two games with Rockford.

Brandon Saad returns to top-six role

After turning in arguably his best performance of the season on Sunday, Saad is back playing on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. He had seven shot attempts (three on goal) against Tampa Bay and led the team in 5-on-5 possession numbers.

"[Saad] is coming off a game where we liked what we saw," Quenneville said. "Playing with Kaner can help him get going."

Nick Schmaltz to play right side for first time in NHL career

Eight games into the season and Schmaltz has spent time at both center and left wing. Now he'll get a look on the right side with Alexandre Fortin on the left and David Kampf centering the third line.

Part of the reason for Schmaltz’s move to the right side was because Quenneville said they like Fortin on the left. It's not unfamiliar territory for Schmaltz, but could take some time getting used to.

"I played a little while back, not sure when," Schmaltz said "Just a little bit different. Catching pucks on your forehand now instead of your backhand. It's not a huge adjustment, just play with speed and compete hard and hopefully the skill on our line will take over."

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the ECHL to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.