Anton Forsberg

Accountant by day, Blackhawks goalie by night: Scott Foster makes NHL debut in rare circumstance

Accountant by day, Blackhawks goalie by night: Scott Foster makes NHL debut in rare circumstance

Three Blackhawks made their NHL debut on Thursday night. 

Two of them were on the roster. The other was not. Come again?

The Blackhawks' scheduled goaltender to face the Winnipeg Jets — Anton Forsberg — suffered a pregame injury and didn't dress.

Next man up? Collin Delia — recalled from the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday night. He was expected to get the start on Friday against the Colorado Avalanche, but his opportunity came a day early with Forsberg's injury.

Things were going as good as they could for the 23-year-old netminder. The Blackhawks were up by three goals and he was holding his own, stopping 25 of 27 shots.

But early in the third period, Delia suffered a cramp and would exit the game. Now what?

Enter, Scott Foster. (Who?)

Foster was signed by the Blackhawks on Thursday to an amateur tryout to serve as their emergency goaltender. He's one of a "collection of guys" who are on call for home games should a situation like this one arise. A brief hockey background on Foster: he's a 36-year-old who played four seasons at Western Michigan University from 2002-06. As their goalie, he went 20-22-6 with a .875 save percentage and 3.44 GAA.

When he came into the game, Joel Quenneville's reaction says it all:

After taking some warm-up shots from Jordan Oesterle and Vinnie Hinostroza during a commercial break, it was Foster's time to shine. And boy did he ever.

Foster went 7-for-7 in saves, and the crowd cheered louder after every one. Fans even chanted "Foster! Foster! Foster" a few times after he made a couple of big stops — the biggest coming on Jets' Paul Stastny.

"That’s something you’ll never forget," Foster said. "I mean, you understand what’s happening and they’re going to have a lot of fun with it, so you might as well, too."

The Blackhawks would go on to win by a 6-2 final score. He would also be the No. 1 star of the game.

"I'm an accountant by day," Foster said. "A few hours ago, I was sitting on my computer typing on a 10-key and now I'm standing in front of you guys just finished 14 and a half minutes of NHL hockey."

This isn't the first time the Blackhawks have had to dress an emergency goaltender. Remember Eric Semborski? Though Semborski didn't get to play in a game in 2016, it was a fun story. 

On Thursday, Foster had the chance to. And it's one he'll remember forever.

"From my perspective, this is a dream regardless," Foster said. "This is something that no one can ever take away from me, it's something I can go home and tell my kids and they can tell their friends and whatnot. So it wouldn’t matter from my perspective. Just a ton of fun and a lot of good memories."

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

The last time the Blackhawks were in Winnipeg they exploded for three first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory on Dec. 14.

The roles were reversed on Thursday.

It appeared the Blackhawks might be headed for another drubbing when Brandon Saad scored 11 seconds into the game and they were awarded an ensuing power play following a failed offside challenge by the home team, but the Jets killed it off then responded with five unanswered goals over the next 11:53 and didn't look back as Chicago lost 6-2.

Anton Forsberg was pulled for the sixth time in his 27th start this season after allowing three goals on six shots, while J-F Berube gave up two goals on his first five shots before stopping 27 straight. It was the 14th time the Blackhawks allowed five or more goals in a game this season, having done that only eight times last season.

Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster in goal as of late.

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks aren't as optimistic about Corey Crawford returning before the season ends and maybe that's for the better.

But there's a big question mark between the pipes when you factor in Crawford's health and the inconsistency from their backups, which has included Jeff Glass, Forsberg and Berube.

The Blackhawks weren't expecting Forsberg to be the next Scott Darling when they included him in the trade package involving Saad and Artemi Panarin this past offseason, but they were certainly hoping he would be around the league average in save percentage (.913).

Instead, it's slipped to .905, which ranks 43rd of 52 goaltenders that have started at least 20 games this season. That's also his 5-on-5 save percentage, which is 49th out of 52 among goalies with 800-plus minutes of ice time.

When it rains, it often pours with Forsberg in net and he hasn't shown signs of progression to prevent the bleeding from getting worse.

The backup goaltending position is more important than ever in this day and age, especially for the Blackhawks with Crawford likely going into next year having not faced a shot in game action in nine months.

For those reasons, it might be wise for the Blackhawks to strongly consider rolling with Berube as the No. 2 to at least start next season if an external option isn't the preferred direction.

It would allow Forsberg to fine-tune his mechanics, build his confidence and continue his overall development with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League, where he backstopped the Lake Erie Monsters to their first ever Calder Cup championship in Columbus Blue Jackets franchise history two years ago.

Berube and Forsberg are both under contract for the Blackhawks in 2018-19, and it's no secret there's a belief within the organization that Forsberg has a higher ceiling. He just hasn't been able to reach it yet in the NHL for whatever reason.

There are 11 games left, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Berube get more than half of those.

Yes, his save percentage is one percentage point below Forsberg's at .904. But three of his eight appearances have come in relief.

In his five starts, he has a .908 percentage; in his three relief appearances, it's at .893.

Berube deserves a longer look, one that could carry weight when determining next season's backup.

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."