You can’t call Joel Quenneville un-sentimental. Not when the Chicago Blackhawks coach puts two brothers on the same roster for the preseason opener against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. It’ll be the first time since they were 6 and 4, respectively, that Jonathan Toews and David Toews will play on the same team.
If Quenneville really wants to pull some heart strings in the Toews’ family, he’ll play them on the same line. In fact, bet on it happening, especially considering the game is “only” 514 miles northwest of Winnipeg where the brothers grew up.
Playing in Saskatoon was the brainchild of Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who used to be the assistant GM for the Hawks. Considering that fact, and the Toews angle, the whole experience would make perfect sense if the Hawks were playing the Jets, but instead it’s the Oilers who will be the first test for the Hawks.
Despite his last name, David is not the No. 1 prospect to keep an eye on in the game. Kyle Beach, Jimmy Hayes, Mark McNeill and Brandon Saad are all players to watch. It’s a first go-around for the latter three, who have all shown promise. And there is a feeling it’s now or never -- in terms of this season in the minors -- to see if the light goes on for Beach.
Blackhawks nation, as well as the front office brass, will also finally get to see what Rostislav Olesz brings to the party. He looked his best on Monday and said he “was testing his knee the first couple days and it felt good.” Olesz showed some hands and a knack for being around the puck in the scrimmage sessions, at least on the final day of intra-squad play.
And then there is the goalie battle. The first three days of camp didn’t distinguish either one, necessarily, but Ray Emery is looking better and better as the choice to stay in Chicago into October. It mostly depends on if he can stay healthy, but Tuesday night will certainly start to shine a light on who might win that battle. Emery and Alexander Salak will split the game, according to Quennevile. At this point, it’s probably Emery’s to lose.
Jeremy Morin practiced for a second consecutive day Monday but has not been cleared for contact as he continues to recover from a concussion he suffered last January.
Patrick Kane scrimmaged for a second consecutive day, but won’t play in the preseason opener. Despite missing Day 1, Kane tied for the lead in points in the three-day intrasquad scrimmage tournament. He had two goals and four assists. Peter LeBlanc also had six points. Toews, Saad and Rob Klinkhammer had five points apiece. Corey Crawford had a 2.88 goals against average to lead the netminders while Mac Carruth gave up nine goals in 75 minutes played for a team worst 7.20 GAA.
Monday’s early scrimmage wasn’t exactly a goaltenders clinic, prompting Quenneville to joke “there definitely would have been a goalie change there.” Team A beat Team C, 6-3, with goalie Alec Richards absorbing the brunt of the damage.