Joakim Nordstrom will get some more ice time and work in with the Rockford IceHogs while Ben Smith will get another chance in the big lineup as the Chicago Blackhawks prepped for their Florida road trip on Monday.
Nordstrom was assigned to Rockford on Sunday morning after playing in the Blackhawks’ first eight games. Coach Joel Quenneville said it’s an opportunity for him to hone a few things with the IceHogs.
“This gets him more quality ice time, more rotations, some penalty kill,” Quenneville said. “Hopefully he can get that and keep going.”
One player’s assignment is another player’s opportunity. Smith, who’s been in and out of the lineup thus far, was skating with the Blackhawks’ fourth liners (Brandon Bollig and Marcus Kruger) on Monday. Smith said he hopes to bring energy when he plays on Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.
“(Smith) played pretty well in the games he’s played. Getting more guys playing, that’s the idea,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see how it works out.”
The Blackhawks are bringing their moms on this trip to Florida. The team alternates each season between mom and dad trips — they did neither during last season’s lockout-shortened campaign — and players said their moms are ready to head south.
“They’ve been there with us for our whole careers, so it’s nice they get to join us on the road trip,” Andrew Shaw said. “You always want to impress your mom, make her proud of you. So expect two hard-played games.”
Quenneville, whose mother is also part of this trip, said it’s an enjoyable outing.
“It’s great for them to see how spoiled we are in how we travel and our lifestyle on the road. The organization, it’s nice for what they’ve done for all of us. Everybody remembers it,” Quenneville said. “I know the moms all do. They’ve been so excited the last three or four days — I’m talking about my own mom in this case — they can’t wait to go, and there’s been a pretty good buzz around here the last few days.”
Corey Crawford will get the start against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Nikolai Khabibulin “could” start against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, Quenneville said. Khabibulin played four seasons with the Lightning, helping lead them to their only Stanley Cup in the 2003-04 season.