Blackhawks’ Riley Stillman out with knee injury, helping Erik Gustafsson keep his spot
The constant shuffling of the Hawks’ depth defensemen has continued with Stillman’s placement on injured reserve, Caleb Jones’ reinsertion and Wyatt Kalynuk’s call-up.
CALGARY, Alberta — The constant shuffling at the bottom of the Blackhawks’ defensive depth chart has no end in sight.
Beneath the established top four of Seth Jones, Connor Murphy, Jake McCabe and Calvin de Haan, the Hawks have gone through a constant rotation. The latest setback came when they put Riley Stillman on injured reserve Monday with an injured left knee suffered Sunday against the Canucks.
Caleb Jones, who slowly is scraping off the rust after returning from his wrist injury, rejoined the lineup in Stillman’s place Tuesday against the Flames. Wyatt Kalynuk was recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League, where he had three points in four games after returning from his ankle injury, but he was the healthy extra Tuesday.
Interim coach Derek King said Stillman’s timeline will be clearer once he’s evaluated in more detail by doctors upon the Hawks’ return Wednesday to Chicago after their four-game road trip. But he will miss at least a couple of games.
Erik Gustafsson, meanwhile, surprisingly continues to hold his spot on the third pair. The all-offense, no-defense defenseman seemed on the road to waivers when he averaged only 7:14 of ice time in King’s first two games in charge. But he most recently played 17:36 against the Oilers and 19:02 against the Canucks, a reflection of King’s newfound trust in him.
‘‘When I first came, he didn’t play much,’’ King said Tuesday. ‘‘He was earning that ice back. He’s put himself in a position where it’s hard to not play him. It’s hard to take him out of the lineup. He’s perfect for us on that second [power-play] unit.’’
Hagel will deal with ‘dead arm’
Wing Brandon Hagel likely will deal with occasional incidents of ‘‘dead arm’’ for the rest of the season after recovering from an injury to the AC joint in his left shoulder.
‘‘You’ve just got to get off [the ice] and let it go away,’’ King said. ‘‘I still get dead arms all the time. It’s just something that’ll occur now and then until summertime, when he has time to heal better.’’
The first such incident occurred when Duncan Keith hit him during the game Saturday against the Oilers. Hagel’s departure, with his arm hanging limply, looked alarming, but he returned the next period.
‘‘Duncan got me in the perfect spot,’’ Hagel joked. ‘‘I shouldn’t have talked to him before the game, I guess.’’