Happy return to hockey day! The Chicago Blackhawks and the 23 other teams participating in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs are all returning to the ice today. The schedule has been announced for the series against the Edmonton Oilers. Also, the Oilers have released their camp roster and one of the top analysts in the game isn’t writing off the Blackhawks.
Qualifying Round Schedule Released
Today’s workouts are the start of preparation for the Blackhawks’ best-of-five Qualifying Round series versus the Oilers. The schedule was officially announced over the weekend with Game 1 scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 1.
Here is the full schedule:
Game 1: Saturday, Aug. 1
Game 2: Monday, Aug. 3
Game 3: Wednesday, Aug. 5
*Game 4: Friday. Aug. 7
*Game 5: Saturday, Aug. 8
* If Necessary
All five games will be played in Edmonton with the Blackhawks being designated as the home team for Games 3 and 4. The start times and broadcast schedule has been announced yet, but we should expect those relatively soon.
The league announced that each hub city, Toronto and Edmonton, will host three games per game. The Eastern Conference games in Toronto will start at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Central Standard time. The Western Conference games are slated to start at 1 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Chicago time.
Oilers Release Camp Roster
On Sunday, the Oilers announced their Phase 3 training camp roster. The list of players preparing for their series against the Blackhawks includes 18 forwards, 10 defensemen and five goaltenders.
Forwards: Josh Archibald, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Benson, Alex Chiasson, Leon Draisaitl, Gaetan Haas, Tyler Ennis, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira, Cooper Marody, Connor McDavid, Ryan McLeod, James Neal, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Joakim Nygard, Patrick Russell, Riley Sheahan, Kailer Yamamoto
Defensemen: Ethan Bear, Matt Benning, Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg, Caleb Jones, Oscar Klefbom, William Lagesson, Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse, Kris Russell
Goaltenders: Mikko Koskinen, Olivier Rodrigue, Stuart Skinner, Mike Smith, Dylan Wells
The Blackhawks have not officially released their roster ahead of today’s first full-team workout. They will be allowed to have 31 players on their roster at the start of the Qualifying Round. Scott Powers of The Athletic gave us an idea of which players are likely to join the roster we saw when the season paused in March.
The additional players are expected to be forwards Brandon Hagel, Dylan Sikura, Philipp Kurashev, John Quenneville and MacKenzie Entwistle; defensemen Lucas Carlsson, Dennis Gilbert, Nicolas Beaudin and Alec Regula; and goalies Collin Delia, Matt Tomkins and Kevin Lankinen. It’s unknown whether Lankinen will be healthy enough to play after surgery on his left shoulder in March, but he has returned to Chicago to be assessed, according to a source.Source – “In a time of no simple answers, 10 questions before the Blackhawks start camp” – Scott Powers, The Athletic – 7/11/20
At the very least, these younger players will get some valuable experience practicing with the NHL club and learning from the veterans.
Weekes Gives Blackhawks a Fighting Chance
When the games actually start for real on Aug. 1, the Blackhawks will be underdogs taking on the fifth-seeded Oilers as the final team to make the cut in the Western Conference. Kevin Weekes of the NHL Network won’t completely write off the Blackhawks, as he recently told Scott King of NBC Sports Chicago.
Weekes says it is hard to count out a team with some future Hockey Hall of Famers like Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who he says will go down as the best American-born player ever, on the roster.
Playoff experience matters, according to Weekes, and the Blackhawks have the advantage in that department.
When you have those guys that have seen that and have experienced that and have been through that and all the international success that they have, that’s a wealth of success that those guys have to their credit, the same thing for Corey Crawford. So, knowing how to navigate a Stanley Cup playoff and not being fazed by the big stage… As I asked Jonathan Toews, I had him on my Instagram probably a month ago, I asked Tazer, ‘What is it about winning?’ Honestly, he wins at walking down the street, he’s won at every level, every single level.
So, there’s something to be said for that swag, that belief, that experience and he’s unlocked the code. They have guys in their group that have unlocked the code numerous times. So that to me, is helpful. And especially when you’re playing remotely and you don’t have the benefit of the great crowd at the United Center, you don’t have that 22,000 and the thunderous roars in your building, which is a huge advantage.
The Blackhawks will have to deal with superstars like Draisaitl and McDavid on the ice. The Oilers have the advantage behind the bench too with Dave Tippett. However, with every team in the postseason coming off a near five-month layoff, anything is possible.