Are you getting excited for the return of the National Hockey League this weekend? The venues in Edmonton and Toronto are ready and the teams have arrived. The Chicago Blackhawks flew into Alberta on Sunday with the 31 players they will do battle with. However, the status of two of their veterans is still up in the air. Plus, two young stars gave their furry friends a heartful farewell before leaving town.
Playoff Rosters Announced
The Blackhawks landed in Edmonton on Sunday and quickly got together for a workout. The team also officially announced their 31-man roster for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The roster includes 17 forwards, 10 defensemen and four goaltenders. The Blackhawks are one of 13 teams who are taking four netminders with them to their hub city.
Here is the final roster:
Drake Caggiula, Ryan Carpenter, Kirby Dach, Alex DeBrincat, MacKenzie Entwistle, Brandon Hagel, Matthew Highmore, David Kampf, Patrick Kane, Dominik Kubalik, Philipp Kurashev, Alex Nylander, John Quenneville, Brandon Saad, Dylan Sikura, Dylan Strome, Jonathan Toews
Nicolas Beaudin, Adam Boqvist, Lucas Carlsson, Calvin de Haan, Duncan Keith, Slater Koekkoek, Olli Maatta, Connor Murphy, Alec Regula, Nick Seeler
Corey Crawford, Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen, Malcolm Subban
Only four players from training camp will not be making the trip to Edmonton; forward Reese Johnson, defensemen Chad Krys and Brent Seabrook and goaltender Matt Tompkins.
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The Oilers released their playoff roster as well and it consists of 18 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goaltenders.
Josh Archibald, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Benson, Alex Chiasson, Leon Draisaitl, Tyler Ennis, Gaetan Haas, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira, Cooper Marody, Connor McDavid, Ryan McLeod, James Neal, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Joakim Nygard, Patrick Russell, Riley Sheahan, Kailer Yamamoto
Ethan Bear, Matt Benning, Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg, Caleb Jones, Oscar Klefbom, William Lagesson, Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse, Kris Russell
Mikko Koskinen, Stuart Skinner, Mike Smith
Crawford Talks About COVID
One of the biggest storylines of training camp was the absence of Crawford. At the start of camp, the Blackhawks’ netminder was deemed “unfit to play” with no further explanation. He finally made his first appearance on Saturday and is making the trip to Edmonton.
After practice, he spoke to the media via Zoom and confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19, thus explaining his absence.
“The first few days that I started feeling symptoms, that was the hardest,” Crawford explained during his chat with the media. “The last couple weeks, maybe a little more, was a little bit easier but I still couldn’t really do much in case there was something wrong with my lungs or my heart, so we had to get that checked out first before I really started pushing in the gym or come on the ice. All of that has been done, the doctors did a good job. We were safe enough about it where we didn’t put anyone else at risk and I’m just excited to be back on the ice and seeing pucks again.”
Head coach Jeremy Colliton still is not sure who will be his Game 1 starter on Saturday. It is unlikely that Crawford will be ready to go as he plans on working him in slowly over the next few days.
Crawford did practice with the team on Sunday. You have to figure he’d get at least one period of action in Wednesday’s exhibition game versus the St. Louis Blues.
Murphy’s Status Uncertain
Murphy is another player who missed some time during training camp. A groin injury caused the veteran defenseman to miss six days of practice, but he returned to the ice on Friday.
“I tweaked my groin in one of the first few days [of training camp],” he said after practice on Friday. “It was one of those things when I was trying to get up to full speed, or do a sprint and kind of fast-twitch in the groin doesn’t feel too good. Unfortunately, with skating you really can’t keep going with practice and let it rest, so I had to sit out a bit and make sure.”
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In an obvious sign that the team is taking it slow with his injury, Murphy was not a full participant in Sunday’s workout in Edmonton.
If Murphy is not ready to go for Saturday’s Qualifying Round opener, it would give a chance for a young guy like Beaudin or Carlsson to get some valuable playoff experience. With 10 total defensemen making the trip, there are plenty of options.
Saying Goodbye to the Good Boys
DeBrincat and Strome are two talented young hockey players, but they might not even be the most popular inhabitants in their own homes. Chicago fans have fallen in love with their furry buddies. In fact, DeBrincat’s two dogs, Ralph and Burt are so popular, they have their very own Instagram account.
With no wife and kids so say goodbye to before leaving for Edmonton, they shared some pictures of their farewell with their four-legged roommates.
The Blackhawks could possibly be gone until October, so these types of goodbyes had to be hard, regardless if it was with your flesh and blood or your favorite pet.
This will be an interesting week for the Blackhawks as they prepare for the start of the playoffs on Saturday. We will get a better idea of who will be available and who isn’t over the next couple of days.