ST. LOUIS — Most of the Blackhawks’ biggest names stayed home on Saturday, but for those who did make the trip to St. Louis, the preseason finale against the Blues was plenty meaningful. Joel Quenneville surely had his opening-night roster in mind already, but Saturday was one last chance for young players and fringe veterans alike to make their case.
“It’s the last preseason game to show the coaching staff and the organization that you deserve to be here,” Ryan Hartman said. “A lot of us will be looking to do that.”
Against most of the Blues’ NHL roster — but not newly acquired Nail Yakupov — the young Hawks struggled to do much offensively. A Dennis Rasmussen redirect of a Trevor van Riemsdyk shot in the second period was the lone Hawks tally. Alex Pietrangelo had the game-winning goal, turning Hawks defenseman Gustav Forsling inside-out with a little toe drag and beating Corey Crawford between the legs.
Quenneville expects to make his final cuts by Monday, so that his final roster can practice together Tuesday before Wednesday’s season-opener against the Blues at the United Center.
Swedish rookie Gustav Forsling has been the defensive standout of Hawks camp, but Czech import Michal Kempny — fresh off the World Cup of Hockey — has impressed Quenneville, as well.
“I like his game,” Quenneville said. “I like the ingredients to his game. I like his quickness, I like his shot. I like his gap. He’s eager to learn. He absorbs a lot of information. And he’s good with the puck. It’s what you’re looking for.”
On the bubble
Andrew Desjardins, a fixture in the Hawks lineup since he was acquired in March of 2015, could be on the bubble as camp draws to a close. At practice on Thursday, he was wearing the dreaded white jersey, usually reserved for scratches. Desjardins centered the third line on Saturday, with Vinnie Hinostroza and Jordin Tootoo.
“He gives us some versatility in all three forward positions, [and] can kill penalties,” Quenneville said. “We like the way he competes and he’s got some physicality to his game. So he brings the assets that you look for in that role and that job description. He’s in the mix and he’s had a good camp.”
Desjardins was hurt blocking a shot in the third period, but Quenneville didn’t offer any specifics on the severity.