Blackhawks’ Adam Boqvist again avoids a long-term injury to nagging right shoulder
The rookie defenseman has hurt his right shoulder three times this season, but none of the injuries has kept him out very long.
When Bruins center David Krejci crushed him into the boards Wednesday and he felt pain shoot through his right shoulder, Blackhawks rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist likely thought he had run out of luck.
After all, his right shoulder has been giving him trouble all season.
He first hurt it at the prospects tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, part of the plague of injuries that mowed down the Hawks’ team in the final game. But while rookie center Kirby Dach left with a concussion that ultimately cost him all of his first training camp, Boqvist recovered quickly.
He reinjured the shoulder Dec. 23 against the Devils, cutting short his first NHL meeting against his brother, Jesper. Aided by the holiday break, Boqvist missed only the game Dec. 27 against the Islanders before returning Dec. 29 against the Blue Jackets.
So the injury Wednesday was the third to his right shoulder in six months. And when he skated off the ice with his right arm hanging limp, it seemed he was likely to miss a longer period of time.
Still, Boqvist again turned out to be all right. He was a full participant in practice Saturday, and while coach Jeremy Colliton said his status hasn’t been determined for the opener of the Hawks’ five-game road trip Sunday in Winnipeg, it’s clearly not going to be a long-term issue.
‘‘It’s not as bad as I thought it was,’’ Boqvist said after practice. ‘‘I’ve been struggling with this shoulder a little bit, so I was worried about that. But it wasn’t too bad, so I’m glad to be out there again.’’
Recent waiver claim Nick Seeler is the Hawks’ insurance in case Boqvist misses a game, and he practiced Saturday on a pair with Connor Murphy.
The Hawks also deployed pairs of Duncan Keith-Erik Gustafsson and Olli Maatta-Slater Koekkoek, with Boqvist rotating in and out of the latter, but Colliton said those were just because they didn’t know whether Boqvist would last the entire practice. If he’s in the lineup Sunday, expect him to return to his usual slot alongside Keith.
With that said, however, that pair has struggled lately. In his last nine games, Boqvist sports a hideous 37.1 percent scoring-chance ratio, even though the Hawks have been outscored only 5-4 with him on the ice.
But some bumps in the road are inevitable for a 19-year-old rookie defenseman, and Boqvist continues to impress the coaching staff with every stride of development.
‘‘We’re going to continue to emphasize just defensive positioning and gap,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘Whether it’s in our end getting a stop, dispossessing the opponent or . . . using his skating to defend a line.
“In the two-on-two drill we were doing today, you can just see what a great skater he is. He’s able to close out [everyone]. Him and Kirby had a race, and he just took away Kirby’s space. He’s not the biggest guy, I understand, but his skating, it allows him to be really effective at defending.’’
The key to Boqvist’s continued progress is continued health, of course, so the good news about his shoulder was great for the Hawks.
And hopefully he can learn how to avoid such close calls in the future.
‘‘I was in a bad spot there,’’ Boqvist said. ‘‘You always have to be aware who’s behind you or stuff like that. You never know how it’s going to go, but I have to be more ready for that type of hit.’’