Oct 2, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT
Chicago heads into their final preseason game this afternoon against the Washington Capitals and while most teams will have their lineups figured out for the most part, the Blackhawks have a bit more work to get done.
In goal they’ve got a competition going on between Ray Emery and Alexander Salak to see who ends up being the backup goalie behind Corey Crawford. Emery is the wily veteran with the wonky hip that he’s continuing to come back from while Salak is the youngster with swagger and attitude looking to land his first NHL job.
Salak’s numbers are a little better than Emery’s and while Emery does have a bit of an embarrassing goal allowed in his last game against Pittsburgh, Tracey Myers of CSNChicago.com believes that Emery’s experience gives him the edge.
The Blackhawks will probably still go with Emery, allowing Salak to hone his skills in Rockford. They like Emery’s veteran status and NHL experience. And the game results could still come. But remember, Blackhawks: the last two guys who started the season as backups, Antti Niemi and Corey Crawford, didn’t have so much NHL experience. They didn’t turn out so bad, either.
Elsewhere on the ice, Chicago is taking a look at Patrick Kane playing center on the second line and while he’s coming back from wrist surgery, he’s showing a different level of play up the middle. Kane’s ability to make plays as well as score goals and wheel around defenders gives him a special something else to his game.
Then there’s what they’ll do about their depth forward spots. We talked the other day about how 2011 second round pick Brandon Saad is fighting his way into the opening night lineup thanks to injuries to Ben Smith and Viktor Stalberg, but there’s another young Brandon making a case for himself as well.
2009 second round pick Brandon Pirri is also making noise late into training camp this year and his offensive skills are showing that the slick skating kid out of Rensselaer in the NCAA is growing into a potential offensive threat. Pirri had two goals and an assist against Detroit and Ty Conklin last Sunday and on Friday night against Pittsburgh he added another two goals beating Brent Johnson in a 3-2 loss to the Penguins. While neither Pirri nor Saad are going to get time on the Blackhawks’ top two lines, if they can add that sort of production and be defensively responsible on the third or fourth lines, the Hawks will welcome it with Stalberg and Smith out of action.
Myers finds out from Quenneville that he’s taking notice of both Brandons.
“We didn’t mind (Pirri’s) game. Offensively, he had a couple real nice looks all alone as well as his production there. He’s got some skill, he’s been a producer his whole life and he sees plays. I think he’s patient in his game, and has nice finish around the net. It’s been a nice camp for him.”
Saad, who has played in every preseason game, had a secondary assist on Pirri’s first goal on Friday.
“He does a lot of good things,” Quenneville said of Saad. “He’s played a lot of games here and we still think he does a lot of good things.”
With these decisions all hanging in the balance heading into today’s game, the make up of the Blackhawks will be curious to see when it comes to opening night against Dallas this week.
- Here’s latest on coaching searches in Buffalo, San Jose and New Jersey 1
- Bishop bounced back in Game 5, but did the Rangers test him enough? 7
- Surging Stamkos: Lightning put Rangers on the brink 19
- Report: Blues will stick with Hitchcock ‘barring anything dramatic’ 15
- WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Rangers, Game 5 of Eastern Conference Final 0
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ 64
- Video: ‘It’s not the ideal situation,’ says OT hero Vermette of being a healthy scratch 5
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks 60
- Video: Ducks score three goals in 37 seconds to take third-period lead 9
- WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Blackhawks, Western Conference Final Game 4 0
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (174)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada (91)
- Report: Sabres negotiating with Babcock (82)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)