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We’re into the NHL preseason territory, where basically every lineup is going to reflect a high percentage of regular NHL players for that respective team. On Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild iced nearly full NHL rosters. With 25 players left in Minnesota’s camp and 30 left in Chicago’s, we’re talking about guys who will be landing on the cut-line that could/should/would be playing in the NHL on most other teams.
Two of those full-time NHLers in tonight’s contest were the brothers Foligno, with Marcus playing for the Wild and Nick playing for the Blackhawks. The two have faced each other before, but this was the first time they have each scored in such a game. Marcus and the Wild opened the scoring less than three minutes into the contest, but Nick and the Blackhawks responded with a goal coming just one second after a powerplay ended to tie it 1-1 going into the first intermission.
Mid-way through the second period, Ryan Donato made a great defensive read at the Wild blue line to breakup a pass, and Taylor Hall used a slick puck pickup to break himself away and finished the chance to make it a 2-1 game. The Blackhawks dominated the second period with a 17-6 shot advantage in the period, along with Hall’s goal, and took the 2-1 advantage into the second intermission.
For as dominant of a second period the Blackhawks had, they were worked in the third period by Minnesota, being out-shot 9-1 in the period. Pat Maroon took advantage of a Wyatt Kaiser blown tire behind the Blackhawks’ net and tied the game late in the period, and Minnesota nearly had the winner with a very late shot hitting the post but staying out. The game would head to overtime tied 2-2, but no game-winner would be found in the extra frame, so the shootout was needed. One lone goal was scored in the shootout as Mats Zuccarello tallied the game-winner, with Connor Bedard, Taylor Hall, and Lukas Reichel all failing to convert their chances.
Greg: The New Guys From Boston Lead the Way
Shortly after the draft last summer, Kyle Davidson acquired Hall and Foligno from the Boston Bruins in an effort to surround Bedard with some established veterans. Hall, a former Hart Trophy winner, was used more in a bottom-six role last season. He is going to see a jump in production this season as he will be attached to the hip of the Blackhawks’ new phenom. Foligno will play a big role this season too. He will be doing a lot of the dirty work on the ice while being a vocal leader off it. Both ex-Bruins found the back of the net for the first time in the preseason tonight.
Foligno played in all three facets of the game tonight. Less than seven minutes after watching his brother Marcus give Minnesota a 1-0 lead, Nick tied the game. The goal came one second after a Blackhawks’ power play expired.
Hall missed the net on an early first-period power play, but he made up for it in the second period. He deeked the puck around former Blackhawk Marc-Andre Fleury to finish off a breakaway and give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead.
Foligno had a strong game. In addition to his goal, he had three shots, a blocked shot, a hit, and a takeaway, and played 2:59 on the penalty kill that went 6-for-6. Hall had four shots on goal, a hit, and a takeaway. Both of these veterans are going to play big roles during the regular season. They will have different jobs on the ice, but will both be huge leaders off of it.
Arvid Söderblom gives the Blackhawks a chance to win
With Petr Mrazek and Arvid Söderblom the only goalies left on the Blackhawks training camp roster, the position is settled, but the rotation is not. Söderblom got a chance to make his case to get the bulk of starts on Thursday, and while the game started in a less-than-ideal fashion, the 24-year-old netminder bounced back nicely, despite the shootout loss.
Marcus Foligno (yes, Nick’s brother) and the Wild scored on their first shot of the game. Freddy Gaudreau sent a point shot through that was tipped by Foligno. Söderblom never had a chance, as he was screened by both Wyatt Kaiser and Marco Rossi.
That trend continued throughout the first period, as the Wild sustained several long shifts in the Blackhawks zone. The Blackhawks will have to be stronger and more physical in front of their own net. This is yet another preseason coaching moment for Luke Richardson, who had to be screaming internally watching the chaos unfold.
In the second period, Söderblom, and his teammates, settled down a bit. The chaos in front was lessened, but that’s not to say Söderblom wasn’t tested. He made several in-close and difficult saves, including a point-blank save on a puck that ricocheted off of Seth Jones’ shin and on net.
In the third period, the Blackhawks successfully killed off a 5-on-3 Wild power play, but a Wyatt Kaiser turnover led to the tying goal from Pat Maroon. In regulation, Söderblom stopped 26 of 28 Wild shots. He kept the team in the game and gave them a chance to win at the end.
It remains to be seen how the goaltending workload will shake out, but I’d predict Söderblom leapfrogs Petr Mrazek before too long.
Mario: Korchinksi’s confidence continues to grow
It’s pretty much a lock that Kevin Korchinski is going to start the season with the Blackhawks in the NHL. How long he stays here is the next question to be answered. But as far as the pre-training camp questions about Korchinski’s readiness for the NHL, he’s answered them all.
Prior to tonight’s game, I asked Korchinski’s defensive partner through training camp, Connor Murphy, about the 2022 seventh-overall pick and what he has seen from him in the preseason. “His skating and ability with the puck is hard to ever learn. To have that coming in right away is unique and a talent that will help him have a really long, successful career.”
Korchinski’s skating and creativity were on display tonight, with a handful of individual moves to help spring himself into the offensive zone to create chances. He notched a secondary assist on the first Blackhawks goal, 20:16 minutes of ice time, two shots on goal, and a 69.23 Shot-For% at all strengths tonight.
I’m still believing that most of his season this year will be played in Seattle with the Thunderbirds of the WHL, but the possibility of him playing most or all of his games this season in Chicago continues to grow incrementally in my eyes.
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