Vinnie Hinostroza, rookies pace Blackhawks past Avalanche

Vinnie Hinostroza, rookies pace Blackhawks past Avalanche

DENVER – When you were younger, you always wanted to play your best in front of your parents. Whether that was their motivation or not, the Blackhawks’ rookies did that on Tuesday night.

The Blackhawks rookies accounted for five goals, including Vinnie Hinostroza’s game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period, as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-4 on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks, playing the first game on their dads trip, remain in second place in the West. They’re tied in points with the Minnesota Wild but the Wild still have four games in hand.

Tanner Kero had two goals and an assist and Nick Schmaltz, playing in his second game since being recalled from Rockford, had a goal and an assist. Brent Seabrook also scored and Marian Hossa recorded his 600th, 601st and 602nd career assists.

The Blackhawks made line changes to try and spark their offense, especially their top line. But as coach Joel Quenneville always says he’ll take the goals from anyone. On Tuesday, those goals came from the rookies playing on the Blackhawks’ third and fourth lines.

“Good response,” Quenneville said. “We were looking for some scoring from other guys, talking about secondary scoring, and tonight they produced all the goals. Fun night for them and a great third period and comeback for us.”

The Blackhawks needed every bit of that third period, considering their second period was so awful. From bad clearing attempts to pucks not put deep enough in the Avalanche zone, the Blackhawks made mistakes and the Avs capitalized. Colorado scored three goals in the second period, including two in 63 seconds, to take a 4-3 lead after two.

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Then came the third period and Hinostroza. His speed is his best asset, and that speed was evident when he chased down a loose puck, got himself a breakaway and scored the tying goal 5:10 into the third period.

“Yeah I thought I would [catch it],” Hinostroza said of that loose puck. “I just saw it flying through the air and thought, ‘this could be a breakaway,’ so I just started trying to skate fast.”

Hinostroza scored what would be the winning goal 3:01 later. Kero added the empty-net goal with 10.6 seconds remaining in the game. Kero’s second goal came off a feed from Jonathan Toews who, despite his goal-scoring struggles this season, passed this chance to the rookie.

“It was a great play, a smart play,” Quenneville said of Toews. “We all know how unselfish he is and he made the right play. He’ll take a point.”

Schmaltz looked great to start this game, scoring his second goal of the season to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. Schmaltz was tentative in his first time up with the Blackhawks, but he didn’t look it in this one.

“I think it’s just trying to get better every game, trying to be responsible defensively and then show off our skill in the offensive zone and play the style of puck-possession game and making plays and getting pucks and bodies to the net,” Schmaltz said of the rookies. “I thought we did a pretty good job tonight.”

The Blackhawks were looking for more scoring with their line changes. They got it from the area they probably weren’t expecting but again, it doesn’t matter who does it.

“For the young guys to chip in, it’s nice,” Hinostroza said. “Hopefully we can keep going forward."

Blackhawks’ depth could be key as roster becomes clearer

Blackhawks’ depth could be key as roster becomes clearer

Jeremy Colliton has tried to dismiss any notion that forward lines in preseason games or practice groups in training camp give any indication as to what the Blackhawks might look like come October 4 in Prague. But with only two preseason games remaining – one of which could very well be the Rockford IceHogs against the Boston Bruins – it would be quite a shock to see the lines shuffled much before the team heads overseas.

“To me, it’s becoming more clear what our lineup is going to look like,” Colliton said after a 3-2 overtime win over an abbreviated Bruins squad on Saturday. “I think we’re getting what we want out of training camp here.”

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews look like a safe bet to once again start the season on the top line, with Alexander Nylander getting the first look on the left wing. On the second line, the combination of Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat look like they will have Andrew Shaw pestering opponents and opening up some ice for them.

Where the Blackhawks hope to see a major improvement is in the bottom six, where the team struggled to generate offense last season. Stan Bowman’s additions this summer seem to have the Blackhawks in much better position to not have to rely so heavily on their top two lines or top power play unit.

The third line looks fairly set with Brandon Saad on the left wing and Dominik Kubalik on the right wing. David Kampf looks like the favorite to center that line, but the Blackhawks did give Anton Wedin a look there against the Bruins, and he delivered a primary assist on Saad’s goal.

“I think he plays with a lot of energy and he’s a conscientious player. I think he works hard. Both sides of the puck, he’s got a little bit of skill. He’s a strong skater,” Colliton said of Wedin. “I thought he did well, I liked that line. I thought Saad was excellent.”

The fourth line of Drake Caggiula, Ryan Carpenter and Zack Smith earned high praise as well.

“I thought that Carpenter line with Smith and Caggiula was really good, really effective for us,” Kane said. “I think that’s something we might have been missing a little bit last year. Good to see them going, seems like that could be a fun line to watch.”

When the Blackhawks’ season ended this past April, Colliton said he wanted to rely less on Kane and use his star in a more “targeted” way. If the third and fourth lines can generate some scoring, or at the very least some offensive zone time, it could go a long way in getting the Blackhawks into a position to confidently roll four lines.

“We have so much more depth, definitely. There’s no question,” Colliton said. “To have the opportunity to move guys up at times, they should be fresh and ready to make a difference further up the lineup. We have competition, which I think is a good formula for us.”

So, while Colliton may try to play coy on forward lines and defense pairings, Kane has much less to hide.

“That was pretty much our lineup, or close to our lineup, so we’re trying to identify the way we want to play,” Kane said. “Obviously, I think we had some spurts tonight where we did that well and some other times where we struggled a little bit. It’s early in the season, we’re still trying to figure it out.”

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Blackhawks announce second round of roster cuts

USA Today

Blackhawks announce second round of roster cuts

After making a first wave of roster cuts to pare their roster down from 55 to 49, the Blackhawks announced a more significant second round Saturday afternoon.

Per the team, forwards Dylan Sikura, Matthew Highmore, Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev, Mikael Hakkarainen, Alexandre Fortin, Reese Johnson, MacKenzie Entwistle, defensemen Nicolas Beaudin, Joni Tuulola, Lucas Carlsson and goaltender Matt Tomkins have all been assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The Blackhawks roster now consists of 33 players: 18 forwards, 11 defensemen and four goaltenders. 

The news comes just hours before the Blackhawks square off with the Bruins in the team's fourth game of the preseason Saturday night.

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