The Chicago Blackhawks ended their short run of losses, but continued their short run of critical injuries
Jonathan Toews. Corey Crawford. Brent Seabrook. If I told you the Chicago Blackhawks might be without all three of these guys at the same time in 2016-17, you’d probably be in a bit of a panic.
We may be facing that scenario moving forward after the Blackhawks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 but lost defenseman Seabrook in the process.
Seabrook’s reported upper-body injury was the big takeaway from this game, as the Blackhawks beating the Coyotes is something that should’ve happened. The Coyotes looked abysmal last night after a fine opening push, so the Blackhawks beating them is far from a benchmark.
But Seabrook being hurt, on top of Toews’ seemingly never-improving back injury and Crow recovering from an appendectomy does not bode well, especially with the high-powered New York Rangers coming to town Friday.
What do Blackhawks do without Seabrook?
We still don’t know the severity of Seabrook’s injury. I actually missed the injury happening — and I was at the game. I saw Seabrook glide back into his own zone for the puck and get it up ice to Richard Panik.
I started following the puck before I suddenly realized Seabrook was huddled in the corner, with a Coyotes player standing near him. He was extremely slow to get up before skating off under his own power but not returning for the rest of the second period or any of the third period.
After the game, coach Joel Quenneville said Seabrook suffered an upper-body injury from which he could not return. However, Seabrook was also seen outside the locker room in street clothes after the game, talking to teammates.
So, let’s say Seabrook misses at least Friday’s game against the Rangers. Not a guarantee, by any means, but his injury didn’t look great. What do the Blackhawks do if Seabrook is out?
My first thought is Michal Kempny needs to be back in the lineup. I have no idea why he continues to be healthy scratched. There almost has to be some underlying injury the Blackhawks don’t want to pile on to all the others. He’s been better than most of his fellow Chicago defenders, even if he’s not a big scoresheet denter.
The second thing that needs to happen is Trevor van Riemsdyk needs to be held out. I’m rarely going to advocate for Michal Rozsival’s inclusion in the lineup, but TVR is just not good right now. Some media and fans acting like last night’s game was some kind of coming out party for TVR, but I have no idea what they were seeing.
Rozsival and TVR are a push as far as speed, something the Blackhawks will need to effectively hold off hordes of Rangers attackers. Rozsival is just more defensively sound, and he knows how to pinch in on offense just as well as TVR. So I’d be more comfortable rolling Rozi as a sixth defender if Seabrook is out.
You didn’t come here just for my take on the Blackhawks defense, so let’s get to some thoughts about Tuesday’s contest.
— I’ll start with TVR, who was somehow a “High-Flying ’Hawk” of one of the CSN Chicago guys after the game. Yes, he had an assist. But there are two kinds of assists — you can be a direct effect on the goal scored, or you can just make a pass while two other guys do all the work. The latter happened to TVR when Ryan Hartman and Marian Hossa broke a 2-on-1, and Hossa finished by essentially forcing the puck past Mike Smith.
Look at the opening of this recap by Faxes From Uncle Dale. TVR managed a minus-8 in Corsi at even strength when the Coyotes were essentially finished after Artem Anisimov’s powerplay redirect goal. That’s amazingly bad. Some numbers (like an assist) don’t tell as much of a story as others.
— Some (the number is thankfully dwindling) might try to use this game as a reason Scott Darling is better than Crow. Well, considering Darling had to do essentially nothing after Anisimov scored, I’m not sure how that works. But I do know we’ll take a backup goaltender shutout any day of the week. Good work from him the last three outings.
— Dennis Rasmussen and Panik look like someone just lit a fire under them. Even broken up from Marcus Kruger, the two were a constant presence at the net, leading to Chicago’s third goal just 19 seconds after the second. Panik’s early roller coaster ride is back on the upswing.
— Jordin Tootoo … how many breakaways can this guy slam into opposing goaltenders’ pads before we’ve learned he can’t help this team? He’s actively dragging down anyone he plays with (though linemate Tyler Motte biffed his own breakaway bid by lifting his stick while trying to receive a pass).
— The Chicago PK continues to improve, but I’m not sure this was such a test. Friday, against the league’s current most-potent offense, will offer a stiffer challenge.