For guys like Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, tonight’s preseason opener against the Detroit Red Wings is a chance to shake off the rust and recapture the chemistry that led to a Stanley Cup last spring.
For guys like Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin, Drew LeBlanc and Jimmy Hayes — among many others — it’s a chance to show they belong in the NHL. And the window to do so is short.
“I just need to show what I can do,” Morin said. “Give it everything I’ve got.”
There are 10 skaters playing tonight who weren’t on the Hawks’ primary roster last season. They’ll be trying to catch Joel Quenneville’s eye and avoid another season in the minors.
“There are a lot of those guys [whom] it seems like are on that cusp of being a top American League player, and trying to get to the NHL level has always been a challenge,” Quenneville said. “For some guys, it’s back and forth for a career. Getting that consistency or getting that opportunity … at that NHL level — it’s a privilege to get there, but it’s not an easy road to get to. Some guys, they’ve got to … try to keep persevering until they do get that call, and do get that opportunity again. We’ve got some guys that are definitely at that position now where they got that chance and hopefully they can nail it.”
Jonathan Toews doesn’t have to sweat a roster spot, of course, and he won’t play tonight. Toews has missed all four days of scrimmaging with a lower-body injury, but Quenneville said he’ll get into the games over the weekend — the Hawks visit the Capitals on Friday, the Red Wings on Sunday and the Penguins on Monday.
Marian Hossa sat out Monday night’s scrimmage and won’t play tonight, but Quenneville said there’s nothing wrong with him, and that he likely will be in the lineup Thursday against Pittsburgh.
Goaltender Corey Crawford will start tonight and play the whole game, Quenneville said. Crawford will get three starts this preseason, while Nikolai Khabibulin will get two and Antti Raanta likely will get one.
“We just need to get our chemistry back,” Bryan Bickell said. “You’ve got to get used to everyone’s tendencies, and just get back int he flow of things. The season’s coming up quick, before you know it it’s going to be the home opener. So we just need to get back to that game mode.”
Here are tonight’s rosters.