Blackhawks notebook: Seth Jones finally faces Blue Jackets for 1st time since trade
After missing the Hawks’ Jan. 11 game in Columbus with COVID-19, Jones — as well as Adam Boqvist — was healthy Thursday to play his former team.
At one Chicago restaurant Wednesday night, Seth Jones caught up over dinner with a number of his former Blue Jackets teammates. At another, Adam Boqvist caught up over dinner with two of his former Blackhawks teammates — Alex DeBrincat and Brandon Hagel.
Then on Thursday, Jones and Boqvist finally faced each other as members of opposing teams for the first time since the multi-franchise-altering trade they headlined last summer. Boqvist’s Jackets ultimately pulled out an entertaining 7-4 victory over the Hawks at the United Center.
It looked for a moment during the second period as if Jones had fittingly scored his fourth goal of the year. But his reaction foretold what the referee had missed but what the replay would soon show — his shot had rang off both posts without crossing the line.
The entire Hawks-Jackets season series went like that for Jones, who also missed his anticipated Jan. 11 return to Columbus with a last-second COVID-19 case. That made Thursday especially meaningful for him, even in his new home arena.
“It’ll be a little strange,” he’d said pregame. “[They’re] just familiar faces, right? It’s too bad I couldn’t play there in Columbus in front of those fans, but I get a shot here to play against them. It should be a lot of fun.”
Boqvist, meanwhile, played nearly 20 minutes back in that January meeting — and has matured significantly this season in Columbus — but still felt plenty of emotions.
“It was a little bit weird to walk in the building this morning,” Boqvist had said pregame. “I saw where Chicago’s cars are parked [and] it felt a little different.”
Arvid Soderblom struggled in his second career start in the Hawks’ crease. The Swedish rookie was victimized by another close call that went against the Hawks, with replay determining a bouncing puck had — unbeknownst to Soderblom — crossed the goal line by a millimeter.
Tyler Johnson — ruled out for three months on Dec. 3 after undergoing artificial disc replacement surgery — could return to the Hawks’ lineup as soon as next weekend, ahead of schedule.
He has been a full practice participant with the team for a little while now. Seeing Jack Eichel — the NHL’s ADR trailblazer who paved the way for Johnson to become the second player to use that type of surgery — make his Golden Knights debut Thursday without any issues was surely encouraging, too.
Jujhar Khaira, out since Jan. 18 with a back injury, has been getting tested by numerous different doctors while deciding between several medical options. Interim coach Derek King didn’t know if surgery was being considered, saying Khaira and the Hawks are “not sure what’s going on there exactly.”
Jonathan Toews, out since Jan. 28 with a concussion, was working out in good spirits in the United Center hallways. He also went “for a little wheel,” King said, on the rink before morning skate — his first time back on the ice since the concussion. There’s still no specific timetable for him.
Reese Johnson, sidelined since Dec. 12 with a broken clavicle, returned to Hawks team practice Wednesday, albeit in a noncontact jersey.
Riley Stillman, out since Jan. 22 with a left shoulder injury, had resumed skating last week but was pulled off that schedule when his shoulder started bothering him again. At this point, the end of February seems like an optimistic estimate for his return.
And Kevin Lankinen, out since Jan. 23 with a hand injury, skated on his own before full-team practice Wednesday and will resume facing shots in practice next week. He could be ready to return by next weekend.