The Blackhawks had a nice cushion with two days leading up to big home game Saturday against Las Vegas.
It was a busy time, though. Here are a few notes from the last two practices:
— Collin Delia will start against the Golden Knights. He’s coming off one of his lesser performances in the 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville, but still has a .939 save percentage and 2.49 goals against average. The Hawks are 3-1-2 in his starts.
Delia wasn’t thrilled with his game against the Predators, in which he had 33 saves on 36 shots before Filip Forsberg beat him in overtime. He hit the ice for Thursday’s optional practice and was a full participant Friday.
Delia has a habit of taking specific breakdowns from games and drilling them in practice the next day. When he gave up two power-play goals that he never saw because an Avalanche player was standing in front of him, he worked that scenario repeatedly in practice.
He emphasized being patient coming off Forsberg’s goal Wednesday, when he jumped early and left an opening for the game winner.
“That’s a huge area I want to improve on,” Delia said. “I was a little bit too antsy. If I would’ve stayed on the post and pretty much let him hit me with the puck and not make the first move… Players are so skilled in this league that, as a goalie, if you make the first move, you’re toast.”
— The Hawks better break out the Purell and review the Dracula Cough. Brent Seabrook missed the Predators game because of illness, and Duncan Keith was out sick Friday. Seabrook is doing fine, but Keith’s status is uncertain for the Las Vegas game.
“We do the best we can,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “You don’t want it to spread through the team… but it’s natural. Every team deals with it during the year, and we proceed accordingly. But if we can let a guy stay home, first so he can recover quicker, but also he’s not around the guys making other guys sick, that’s the benefit.”
— The Hawks are doing a cool celebration during Saturday’s game in honor of the one-year anniversary of forming The Chicago Blackhawks Foundation. That arm of the organization used to be Chicago Blackhawks Charities, but the opening of MB Ice Arena in December 2017 allowed them to become more hands-on in their community outreach.
“It’s paid off in a number of ways,” director Tovah McCord said Friday. “It allows us to expand our reach of community programing because we have our own facility… We’re serving a lot more kids.”
Over the past year, The Hawks have served more than 10,000 kids at the practice facility and 18,000 total counting grants they’ve issued. The foundation primarily targets children on the west side, where the United Center and MB Ice Arena are, for its activities, but has projects citywide and throughout the suburbs.
The foundation’s takeover night includes Patrick Sharp signing autographs, Corey Crawford raffling off a car he restored, kiosks with information about the various programs and a guaranteed $100,000 minimum split-the-pot lottery (the winner takes home $50,000).
— Hawks defenseman Gustav Forsling is on Injured Reserve with an upper torso injury, but it sounds like he’ll be back soon. His IR status is retroactive to Jan. 5, meaning he is eligible to play Saturday, and Colliton said, “His return isn’t imminent, but I don’t think it’s going to be super long-term.”
— Patrick Kane is on a tear. Read this to see why he seems to be rising to a new level.
— The move from Joel Quenneville to Colliton brought a lot of change to the Hawks. That transition is playing out on the ice and behind the scenes.
Consider this: Quenneville is 60 and has been coaching more than two decades, while Colliton is a first-time NHL head coach and the youngest in the league (turns 34 on Sunday). It’s no surprise that Colliton favors a more collaborative arrangement.
“Joel definitely had that veteran presence and that persona of laying the law of what is expected,” defenseman Connor Murphy said. “And maybe now with a bit of a younger staff it’s more about working through things together and having an open mind on new developments to the game and introducing new things into routines and players, so there’s definitely different ways of approaching things.”
— For more on Murphy, who avoided taking a skate blade to the mouth the other night, read this.
— Alex DeBrincat is crushing it. Check out what his run means for the Hawks by reading this. He scored for the third straight game Wednesday and has 10 points in his last 10. Nonetheless, he was one of the team’s few top players who chose to skate in the optional practice. He hit the ice at least a half-hour before it began.
— Jonathan Toews doesn’t think he’s been good enough lately. He has two goals and seven assists in his last eight games, but said Wednesday he owes his linemates a better effort.
“I haven’t been playing with as much energy,” he said. “Maybe the points are there, but I can find ways to be better.”
— Toews, by the way, lost the Last Men In vote to get in the NHL All-Star Game. Based on his initial comments about it a week ago, he’ll probably get over it quickly.