The Blackhawks will be without No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford due to an upper-body injury. Antti Raanta will make his season debut. Raanta learned he would start on Tuesday morning. He was 13-5-4 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .897 save percentage as a rookie during the 2013-14 season.
Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg will also make his season debut Tuesday after missing four games with a lower-body injury.
The Blackhawks are riding a four-game points streak with a 3-0-1 record to start the season. They have been pleased with their record and their shot quantity -- they’re averaging a league-best 40 shots on goal per game -- but haven’t been happy with their goal quantity. They have scored 11 goals, with six of those coming in one game. Their 11 goals have been divided between six at even strength, three on the power play and two shorthanded.
The Flyers arrive in Chicago with a 1-2-2 record and are coming off a 6-5 overtime win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds each have seven points for the Flyers. Simmonds is tied for second in the league with five goals. Goaltender Steve Mason will start in net. He is 0-2-1 with a 3.78 goals-against average and .865 save percentage this season.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has switched up his lines in hope of getting more offense. His first three lines will be Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa, Versteeg – Andrew Shaw – Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell – Brad Richards – Brandon Saad. The fourth line will include Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith, but Quenneville wouldn’t say whether Daniel Carcillo or Jeremy Morin would also be on that line. The Blackhawks’ defenseman pairings are expected to be Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya – Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk – Michal Rozsival.
The Blackhawks’ focus will be on improving their power play. They were 0-for-5 on the advantage Saturday and are 3-for-21 for the season.
“You could talk about every area the other night and say it has to be better,” Quenneville said. “Faceoffs, retrievals, shot selection, lack of shots, entries, every area. We have to be better across the board. We can’t be happy with the last game.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford didn't feel well on Monday night and felt worse Tuesday morning. Quenneville didn't expect Crawford to miss much time and said he is day to day. Crawford is 3-0-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in four games this season.
Antti Raanta will start in Crawford's place and make his season debut.
Raanta was 13-5-4 with a 2.71 GAA and .897 save percentage as a rookie during the 2013-14 season. He signed with the Blackhawks in June 2013 after previously playing in Europe.
"Of course, you try to be ready every day because you never know what's going to be going on here," Raanta said after the team's morning skate. "It's lot of games, 82 games. You just try to put yourself focused all night long even though you're not playing and like that. Of course, it was a little different morning when you come up here and you hear you're going to play. I feel good, and I'm ready to go there."
To back up Raanta, the Blackhawks recalled goaltender Scott Darling from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.
Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg
Fredrik Olofsson, forward, Chicago Steel (USHL), drafted 4th round in 2014
Olofsson was named the USHL’s forward of the week on Monday. He scored five goals last weekend. He had a hat trick in a 4-3 win over the Bloomington Thunder on Friday and added two more goals in a 4-3 loss to the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Saturday. He also recently committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He is tied with fellow Blackhawks prospect Matheson Iacopelli for a league-leading seven goals and is tied for fifth with nine points.
Matheson Iacopelli, forward, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL), drafted 3rd round in 2014
Iacopelli added another goal to his season tally by scoring in a 4-3 win over the Chicago Steel on Saturday. He has seven goals and eight points on the season.
Michael Paliotta, defenseman, Vermont (NCAA), drafted 3rd round in 2011
Paliotta, a senior, had a goal and an assist and was a plus-2 in Vermont’s 3-0 win over Clarkson on Saturday. He’s tied for third in the nation with seven points. He has two goals and five assists in three games. Vermont is ranked No. 17 by USCHO.com.
Peter Regin, forward, Rockford IceHogs (AHL), acquired from the New York Islanders in 2014
Regin showed he’s motivated to get back to the NHL. He had a goal and two assists in a win over the Adirondack Flames on Friday and scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the IceHogs to a 2-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday. He leads the IceHogs with four points, which includes two goals and two assists.
Ivan Nalimov, goaltender, Admiral Vladivostok (KHL), drafted 6th round in 2014
Nalimov had his finest game of the season on Sunday. He made 26 saves in a 1-0 shootout win over HC Sochi. He has a 2-4 record with a 3.10 goals-against average and .892 save percentage in nine games this season.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had time to think about his lines during the team’s day off on Sunday.
On Monday morning, he returned to the rink with changes in mind.
Quenneville mixed up his second, third and fourth lines during practice on Monday. His lines had been Brandon Saad-Andrew Shaw-Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell-Brad Richards-Ben Smith, Daniel Carcillo-Marcus Kruger-Jeremy Morin. On Monday, the lines were Kris Versteeg-Shaw-Kane, Bickell-Richards-Saad, Carcillo-Kruger-Smith.
The changes weren’t a surprise. The Blackhawks have built a 3-0-1 record, but they haven’t been lighting up the scoreboard. They have scored 11 goals in the four games, with six coming at even strength, three on the power play and two shorthanded. Of the even-strength goals, only three have been scored by forwards. Carcillo, Kane and Shaw have accounted for those goals.
“It's something we've talked about -- we’re happy with getting wins, but at the same time we want to keep building and keep getting better every game,” Saad said. “That's something we haven't seen too much of and we need to pick it up.”
Saad said he didn’t take being moved off the second line personally. He expected Quenneville would tell him if he needed to improve on anything.
Quenneville did say Monday he wasn’t getting what he wanted from the line of Saad-Shaw-Kane. Quenneville reunited that trio just before the regular season began. Saad and Shaw have the team’s lowest Corsi percentages in 5-on-5 situations among the players who have appeared in all four games. Shaw is at 52.04 percent and Saad at 53.12 percent. Kane is 10th on the team at 60.17 percent.
“I haven’t seen possession,” Quenneville said of that line. “They’ve had more shifts in their own end the last couple of games. I didn’t mind them first couple of games. The last two hasn’t been as effective as we’ve seen.”
Quenneville thought getting to the net more would help all of his lines.
"As a team I still think we got to get more guys going to the net without the puck," Quenneville said. "With the puck down low, we should be looking to take ourselves in that area. I just think we need to score some more greaser goals than we have earlier this year. I think we’re looking for more presence in that area whether [Saad's] the guy, Bickell’s the guy. I can go down the lineup. Still got to go no matter who, what kind of player you are if you want to score goals. That’s where you got to get to."
Quenneville is hoping Versteeg, who has missed four games with a lower-body injury, will spark the second line, and Saad will help improve the third line.
“They were better the last game,” Quenneville said of the third line. “I would expect Saader’s line, him wherever he plays, to give that line a boost and make a contribution be it offensively or with the puck, be more of a threat.”
The other major change was removing Morin from the lineup. He has been effective when on the ice. He has a 64.91 Corsi percentage in 5-on-5 situations and has averaged 18.53 shots per 60 minutes, but he hasn’t been given much ice time. He’s averaged 6:37 of ice time through four games.
Quenneville recognized that Morin hadn’t received much of an opportunity to showcase his game.
“Mo has been fine,” Quenneville said. “I think every game there’s been a lot of special teams. All of a sudden, he misses out on that rotation of that line. [Kruger and Smith], when they get together with Carcillo, that line’s played pretty well. So, he’s been fine, but he certainly hasn’t got a ton of ice time to get a fair assessment.”
Morin tried to keep a positive attitude after practice.
“I don’t really know the lineup right now,” Morin said. “I’m just coming to practice and hopefully I’m in the lineup. If I’m not, I’ll work my way to get back in.
“It’s always hard to get out there and play well and I definitely think I can be playing better. It’s my goal. I have to earn my ice time and keep working at it.”
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg could make his season debut against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Monday.
Versteeg suffered the undisclosed injury during practice on Oct. 7 and was originally expected to miss three weeks. He returned to the ice last week and began practicing with the team again on Saturday.
“We’re going to check for sure in the morning that he’s ready to go, but he could play tomorrow night,” Quenneville said after practice on Monday. “We’ll know more after the morning skate.”
CHICAGO -- Andrew Shaw moved to the front of the net before a recent Chicago Blackhawks practice and prepared himself for a few minutes of chaos as various teammates shot puck after puck from near the blue line.
Some pucks he deflected with his stick. Some he absorbed with his body. Some he missed on purpose. The shooters will change, but Shaw puts himself in that same position every practice. It’s what he considers his bread and butter.
Shaw came to the realization during his teenage years he didn’t possess the natural ability to rise above most elite players. He needed something to differentiate himself, and that became his net-front presence.
“I think it started back in juniors,” said Shaw, whose two goals this season came at the front of the net. “I needed something in my game that other people didn’t have. Every team I went to I felt the net-front presence was where I would earn my buck and get my opportunities. I kind just to work on it every day I’m on the ice. I seem to get better and better at it.”
“I’ve made a career out of it. If I wasn’t good in front of the net, I don’t know where I’d be. It’s probably the biggest part of my game.”
Shaw can first remember cultivating that skill when he was a kid growing up in Belleville, Ontario.
“It started when I was young,” Shaw said. “Me and my brothers used to play road hockey, just always shot pucks. Instead of me just shooting, I’d just be in front trying to tip them in.”
Tipping pucks, which he says the key to is knocking them downward, is part of providing that net-front presence. Another is screening goaltenders. Shaw may not be the tallest player at 5-foot-11 or cover the most room weighing just 179 pounds, but he’ll still able impair a goaltender’s vision.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford can attest to that. Crawford has to deal with Shaw every practice.
“For a small guy, he really screens the goalie pretty good,” Crawford said. “In practice, he's tough to look around. He's in the shooting lane whenever the puck is being passed around. He moves around pretty good in front of the net. He's great at tipping pucks. Like I said, for a small guy, yeah, he does a great job.”
For a small guy, Shaw also had to learn how to make himself an unmovable object to opposing defenseman, who often greatly outweigh him. Shaw does take his share of physical abuse for doing this. Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, who is 6-foot-8 and 219 pounds, demonstrated that by sending Shaw flying to the ice with a strong shove in the back in a recent game.
“I think it was a little bit more than a shove, but that’s just a part of being in front of the net,” Shaw said. “You just kind of give it to one another and create as much havoc as you can.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville believes Shaw is becoming one of the NHL’s best in front of the net and even compared him to Tomas Holmstrom in that ability.
“There’s a mentality,” Quenneville said. “There’s an art, some skill to it, a lot of it is will, knowing the level of punishment that can be provided. He knows how to take it, absorb it, roll with it, give it back without crossing the line. But he positions himself well.
“Look at Holmstrom in Detroit in the past doing that job perfectly. Hopefully Shawzy can keep getting better at it because he’s doing a lot of good things. He sustains pucks, not just around the net, but in the corners and puck areas. Really progressing in a nice way.”
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks might be the most unsatisfied 3-0-1 team out there.
The Blackhawks have gotten the final result they desired in three of their first four games and have picked up points in every contest, but the path to their unbeaten regulation record has included some Chicago-type potholes.
Aside from a definitive 6-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks have had to battle to secure points in their other three games. They were outplayed by the Dallas Stars in the season opener but stole a 3-2 shootout victory. They dominated possession against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday but ended up on the losing side of a 2-1 overtime result.
Saturday brought more of the same. Chicago outshot the Nashville Predators 37-20 but couldn’t capitalize on its chances. The Blackhawks scored on their first shot of the game and on their final shot, which came when Jonathan Toews created a turnover and scored a breakaway, short-handed goal in overtime. In between, there was plenty of frustration.
Toews said he felt fortunate to pull out the win and admitted his team hasn’t exactly been clicking but added their schedule has likely factored into that. The Blackhawks have had just four games in a 10-day span to open the season.
“It was just another kind of frustrating game, where we have energy -- we just can’t seem to quite get that flow we’re looking for, where all four lines are feeding off each other, where we got one good shift and we follow it up with another one,” Toews said. “We’re obviously not going to make excuses, but I think when we start playing more games, we’ll definitely get the feel for what we need to do better. Like I said, it’s good to come out of this stretch of not having a whole lot of games, not having a whole lot going on, with a win tonight, even though it was an ugly one.”
A big reason for that ugly feeling was the power play, in which the Blackhawks struggled in all phases. Their entries were a disaster, whether they tried to carry, chip or pass the puck into the offensive zone. When they did get into the zone cleanly, they were seldom able to get set up and connect on passes. They had seven shots on goal on five power plays, and most of those came from clean entries by Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had hoped for a better power play Saturday after his squad went 1-for-7 against Calgary.
“Tough night there, power play,” Quenneville said. “We lost every faceoff, particularly our key faceoffs tonight. We were ineffective, and then we didn’t [get] them settled down.”
Goaltender Corey Crawford helped keep Nashville at bay with the Blackhawks out of sync -- particularly in the third period, when the Predators took 11 of their 20 shots on goal. He’s off to a strong start, with a 1.66 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
“I didn’t like our third,” Quenneville said. “Crow was excellent and kept us in it and preserved the point.”
At the end of the day, the points are what matter. The Blackhawks have accumulated seven in four games and found ways to take four points against division opponents with victories in overtime and a shootout.
“We know we’re not going to get an easy test, especially within our own division,” Toews said. “We have been to overtime a couple times already in four games. It’s nice for us to come out on top two out of the three. It is what it is.
"Sometimes when we’re locked in a tight game like that, and it’s sloppy and it’s ugly, we just got to find ways to win. It’s not always going to be perfect. It’s not always going to be exactly the way we want to play, but we just got to grind it out and stay positive through 60.”
With Patrick Sharp off for tripping, Toews stole the puck from Nashville's Roman Josi just inside the Chicago blue line. He raced down left wing, cut to the slot and was stopped by Carter Hutton on his first shot, but Toews managed to push the rebound under Hutton's pads.
CHICAGO – Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday at the United Center:
How it happened: Jonathan Toews scored the winning goal when he stole the puck and converted on a short-handed attempt in overtime. The two teams had been tied 1-1 since almost the midway point of the first period. Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya put his team ahead with a goal from left circle 1:49 into the opening frame. The Predators answered when Shea Weber scored a power-play goal at 11:17. The Predators gave the Blackhawks plenty of opportunities to add to their tally, as they took five penalties in the first two periods, but Chicago wasn't able to convert on any of the resulting power plays. The Hawks went 0-for-5 and are 3-of-21 on the season in power plays. Predators goaltender Carter Hutton, a former Blackhawks prospect, stopped 35 of 37 shots. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 17 saves on 18 shots.
What it means: The Blackhawks improved to 3-0-1 on the season and have recorded at least a point in every game; three of Chicago's first four have gone to overtime. The Predators have also picked up a point in all five of their games. They fell to 3-0-2. The Blackhawks will be disappointed not to have scored a handful of goals, considering they finished with a considerable edge in shots on goal for a third consecutive game. They previously outshot the Buffalo Sabres 47-23 in a 6-2 win and the Calgary Flames 50-18 in a 2-1 overtime loss. The power play has to be an early concern, too; Chicago is 1-for-12 over the past two games.
Player of the game: Toews made the play of the game by forcing the turnover and scoring.
Stat of the game: The Blackhawks and Predators each scored on their first shot on goal.
What it means: The Blackhawks finish their four-game homestand with the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
He’s now out to earn more ice time.
Morin has averaged a team-low 6:46 of ice time through three games and has been limited to less than six minutes in two of those games. He played 5:48 against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday and was given just two shifts and 58 seconds in the third period.
“I think you earn your ice time,” Morin said after the team’s morning skate on Saturday. “That’s what I have to do. I have to go out there every game and earn my ice time. Obviously everyone wants to play a bigger part.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said cutting Morin’s minutes against the Flames wasn’t about Morin’s play.
“Just the way the game was going,” Quenneville said. “Got behind there, playing with the top guys more. Schedule’s letting us do that more early in the year. [Daniel Carcillo, Ben Smith, Marcus Kruger] had a couple good shifts in there. That was more of the reason. But he’s been fine.”
Morin said Quenneville has been communicating with him about his minutes and where he needs to improve his game. Morin has played mostly on the fourth line in the first three games. He has zero points and has had a 65.22 Corsi percentage in 5-on-5 situations.
Versteeg was thrilled to be back skating with the team after sitting out nearly two weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered during practice on Oct. 7.
“It's always good to get out with the guys and get on the ice,” Versteeg said. “I was really excited, I know, last night, just to get back out there with the guys and see how it would be in a practice, well, in a morning skate moreso, so it's a little slowed down. But it's feeling good and just taking it day-by-day now.”
Versteeg nor Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville knew when Versteeg would play in a game. Quenneville said he would have a better idea Monday. Versteeg said he was ahead of the three-week timetable that was originally placed for his return.
The injury was especially difficult for Versteeg to swallow because he was feeling like his old self in the preseason after spending the summer strengthening his knee. He suffered a season-ending knee injury during the 2012-13 season with the Florida Panthers and thought he returned too soon from his rehab last season.
“When you have so much expectations of yourself, especially coming off a great summer and getting further and beyond of what even I expected it would be, it was a little bit devastating, and I was pretty rattled,” Versteeg said of his latest injury. “But, you know, now you take those two days just to pout and regroup and then get back to work and get excited about it.
“It is what it is. It's part of the game. I've learned long enough, I've played in this game long enough that things are going to happen and you've just got to come back stronger and hungrier. I think this little time off has helped me, too, just to rejuvenate and get what I had wrong, get it to 100 percent and then get going."
The one upside for Versteeg has been the Blackhawks’ lack of games to start the season. The Blackhawks have had only three games during the season’s first 10 days. Their schedule picks up beginning with Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators. They play five games in the next nine days.
Quenneville looked forward to getting Versteeg back into the lineup. Quenneville was planning to use him on the third line with Bryan Bickell and Brad Richards.
“He adds a lot of versatility in the way you can use him,” Quenneville said of Versteeg. “He can play in the course of a game when things are going good or not so good. You can insert him with top guys. He can kill penalties for you. He can play on the power play. He has real good play recognition and skill level. But that versatility is something you can really use in different situations as the game evolves, 4-on-4 situations.”
The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 and have picked up at least a point in their first three games. They’re coming off a disappointing 2-1 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames. The Blackhawks outshot the Flames on goal 50-18.
Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival will make his season debut Saturday. He missed the first three games with an upper-body injury. Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg will miss a fourth consecutive game with a lower-body injury. Versteeg participated in the team’s morning skate and is ahead of schedule after suffering an injury Oct. 7. He was originally expected to miss three weeks.
The Blackhawks' defensive pairings will be different from the first three games. The pairings are expected to be Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya – Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk – Rozsival. The lines will be Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad – Andrew Shaw – Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell – Brad Richards – Ben Smith and Daniel Carcillo – Marcus Kruger – Jeremy Morin.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has allowed two goals in each game this season. He has a 1.90 goals-against average and stopped 69-of-75 shots for a .920 save percentage.
One of the Blackhawks’ focuses against the Predators will be being more direct with scoring opportunities. They felt they were too “cute” with the puck against the Flames and lacked quality chances.
“We counted the chances we could’ve had, probably 10 of the 15 were A-plus, another five would’ve been real chances that didn’t even qualify as scoring chances,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Whether too cute, not bearing down or not aware, and some of the pressure from them, give them some credit as well. A lot of times in that area, you don’t need style points to score goals. We need to finish, and I think that’s a little disappointing at that end of the game because we did so many other good things. We should’ve been rewarded somewhere.”
The Blackhawks have scored a power-play goal in each of the first three games. They are 3-of-16 on the power play and 10-of-11 on the penalty kill. The Predators are 1-of-12 on the power play and 10-of-12 on the penalty kill.
The Predators improved to 3-0-1 with a 2-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne made 31 saves in the shutout. Filip Forsberg leads the Predators with five points. The Predators haven’t allowed more than two goals this season and are second in the league with a 1.30 goals-against average.
Former Blackhawk Viktor Stalberg made his season debut Friday. He missed the first three games with a lower-body injury.
Richards admitted Friday he and his line have gotten off to a slow start through three games. He hasn't recorded a point yet and he and his linemates Bryan Bickell and Ben Smith are among the team's worst players in Corsi percentage in 5-on-5 situations. Richards is 14th on the team with a 55.77 Corsi percentage.
"It doesn't seem like we've played a lot of hockey. I'm kind of wishing there was more games, so you can get into a rhythm and try to get out there and feel more comfortable. That's the way it is. We're getting a lot of practice time. Just every day is a work in progress."
He's right; the Blackhawks haven't played a lot of games. They have had three games since the NHL regular season began Oct. 8. The Boston Bruins have had six games. The Blackhawks have had five practices during that span.
Richards is not only going through an adjustment period with the Blackhawks, who he signed with in July after spending the past three seasons with the New York Rangers. He is also learning his linemates. He spent nearly the entire preseason working with Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane and was moved alongside Bickell and Kris Versteeg following the final preseason game. Versteeg suffered an injury just before the season began, and Smith joined that line.
Richards kept his answer brief when asked if he was surprised he was moved off the second line with Saad and Kane.
"I don't know surprised," Richards said. "I'm here to try to help out. That's not my decision."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is optimistic about a line with Richards, Bickell and Versteeg and saw progress with Bickell, Richards and Smith against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. Versteeg will return to practice on Saturday after suffering a lower-body injury on Oct. 7.
"I didn't mind [Richards] in camp," Quenneville said. "I looked forward to see how it would look with Bicks and Steeger. He's working hard, learning the system and finding out where guys are is part of that process. He's been all right."
Quenneville acknowledged Richards has dealt with a lot of change in the past few months. He signed with a new team, moved to a new city and he and his wife recently added a baby to their family.
"Yeah, he's definitely had a lot of newness," Quenneville said. "New city, new team, new organization, new dad, new baby, all great, new experiences and it's all going to turn out fine. All at once, new season and linemates, regularly, hopefully he gets familiar with that group. It has the makings of a real nice line. We get everyone rolling. We saw signs of that last game, playing the right way across the board. We're close."
Richards hasn't had time to put all of his new life events into perspective, but he does understand that things are different right now.
"I'd love to tell you everything is normal," Richards said. "I'm sure it has [affected me]. I know for a fact it's a lot easier when you're not doing all that stuff.
"When you're in it, you don't look at it [like,] 'That's affecting me today. I'm going to have a bad day today because I just moved.' You don't think like that. Happy to have an opportunity here. I knew throughout the summer, you've been around long enough, I knew that there's going to be some adjustment period. Then you add in a baby and a move, a new coach, new players, there's a lot going on. If you don't bring it up, I'm not really thinking about it.
"I probably have to be honest a little bit. It's not the normal way to start a season the rest of my career. It's not an excuse either. A lot of people have had children, moved to new teams. It's going to take a little bit. I was pretty ingrained in that team over there. It's going to take a little while [to learn] how things are done here."
Quenneville also said forward Kris Versteeg skated Friday for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury Oct. 7 and will participate in the team's morning skate Saturday. Versteeg was expected to miss three weeks because of the injury, but Quenneville said he might be ahead of schedule.
"He said he skated really well today," Quenneville said. "He feels real good. So, he made a significant improvement."
The Blackhawks also assigned defenseman Kyle Cumiskey to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL after he cleared waivers Friday. The Blackhawks have 22 roster players, including 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders.