Blackhawks look to close out road trip against Oilers on high note

Blackhawks look to close out road trip against Oilers on high note

EDMONTON, Alberta – The Blackhawks have played a lot of hockey lately and the upcoming break will give them a chance to recharge and regroup for the stretch run.

But before they relax, they have to get through one more team. And that team gave them a heck of a time in November.

Scott Darling will get the start as the Blackhawks face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. This is the Blackhawks' second visit to the Oilers' new home, Rogers Place. The first trip was forgettable as the Oilers pummeled the Blackhawks 5-0 on Nov. 21. The Oilers, who are coming off their bye week, lost three of four entering their break.

The Blackhawks have won four in a row and, regardless of Saturday's outcome, will finish above .500 on the Ice Show trip. Still they'd like to go into their bye week on a positive and keep pace with the Minnesota Wild. The Wild, who are idle tonight, have a five-point lead over the Blackhawks in the Western Conference.

"It's been a great trip for us," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Every game we played well and we want to make sure we keep doing the same things. Playing the right way is important as well. When we do it, it seems we're better, we're deeper and that balance can be the difference. We'll need a better effort than we saw in here the last time against this team. We lost our negative streaks against Minnesota and Winnipeg. We'll try to delete our last game in here as well."

Quenneville said he'd make one more lineup change but wouldn't divulge what it'll be.

Broadcast information

Time: 9 p.m.

TV: WGN

Radio: WGN 720 AM

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Gustav Forsling-Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Scott Darling

Injuries/illnesses: Michal Rozsival (lower body).

 

Edmonton Oilers (via team website)

Forward lines

Patrick Maroon-Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl

Milan Lucic-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot-Drake Caggiula-Anton Slepyshev

Anton Lander-Mark Letestu-Zack Kassian

Defensive Pairs

Andrej Sekera-Matt Benning

Oscar Klefbom-Adam Larsson

Brandon Davidson-Jordan Oesterle

Goaltender

Cam Talbot

Injuries/illnesses: Jujhar Khaira (wrist), Darnell Nurse (ankle), Tyler Pitlick (knee), Kris Russel (undisclosed).

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Ted Dent was another longstanding member of the Blackhawks' organization. On Tuesday, he was the latest to be let go.

Dent, head coach of the Rockford IceHogs for the past six seasons, was fired on Tuesday morning. Dent spent a total of 11 years in the organization; he was the IceHogs' assistant coach for five seasons before taking the head coaching job for the 2011-12 season.

Just over a year ago, the Blackhawks gave Dent a three-year contract extension that was set to run through the end of the 2018-19 season.

"The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization," Blackhawks general Manager Stan Bowman said. "He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best."

The IceHogs didn't have the depth this season they had in previous years, and they struggled all season en route to a 25-39-9-3 record. The struggles got worse after the March 1 trade deadline, when the Blackhawks sent Spencer Abbott and Sam Carrick to the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate). At the time, Abbott led the IceHogs in points with 35 (15 goals, 20 assists) and Carrick was second with 28 points (11 goals 17 assists).

After the two were traded, the IceHogs went 4-12-1.

It's the second consecutive day in which the Blackhawks fired a member of their organization's coaching staff. Mike Kitchen, the Blackhawks' assistant coach since 2010, was fired on Monday. Kitchen and head coach Joel Quenneville have been friends going back to their NHL playing days, when the two were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was also part of Quenneville's coaching staff in St. Louis.

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, he said that there would be change. That started on Monday when assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired.

The move came five days after the Blackhawks were swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said in a statement that, “we believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward. Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future.”

Kitchen has been a member of coach Joel Quenneville’s staff since 2010. The two go back to their playing days, however, when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and also the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was Quenneville’s assistant when the two were with the St. Louis Blues and when Quenneville was fired as Blues coach midway through the 2003-04 season, Kitchen was promoted to head coach.

As part of the Blackhawks’ staff Kitchen’s focus on special teams, mainly the penalty kill. That kill finished the regular season 24th overall in the league, although that has to come with an asterisk. The penalty kill started the 2016-17 season so poorly that it was never going to get too far out of the basement. It did get stronger as the season wore on, and it was fourth overall during the Blackhawks’ short stay in the playoffs.