Despite the constant fluidity of their roster changes, the Rockford IceHogs have had their best three-game stretch to date, going 2–1–0 heading into the weekend. The IceHogs began the week with back-to-back home wins against the Iowa Wild by a 3–2 margin last Saturday, and then 4–3 win in overtime on Sunday. On Thursday night, the Hogs were bested the Grand Rapids Griffins yet again, this time 3–1.
What has been going well
Despite a young Chicago Blackhawks roster, call ups, a taxi squad and some injuries, the Hogs are starting to find consistency with some of their younger players. Rockford Head Coach Derek King has identified more permanent roles for some of his assets. Andrei Altybarmakian has come into his own. With an assist in Saturday’s game against the Wild, he followed that effort with two goals, including the overtime winner on Sunday. Nicolas Beaudin, who is now back with the Blackhawks, has been a weapon, and perhaps out of place. After multiple assists in his lasts few games with the Hogs, including three in Saturday’s 3–2 win, it is becoming more and more clear that Beaudin is an NHL defenseman. Hopefully, for his sake, his Rockford days are numbered.
— Greg Boysen (@GregBoysen) March 8, 2021
Collin Delia is now making the best of what has been an unenviable position. Now back with the taxi squad in Chicago, Delia won his last two starts in Rockford, making 35 saves on Saturday and 27 saves on Sunday. It is hard to know what will be next for Delia. As one astute correspondent with The Rink commented, “he’s one groin pull away from getting another shot.” That may be, but barring an injury to Kevin Lankinen or Malcolm Subban, it is hard to envision Delia getting another shot in Chicago. It may be time for the Blackhawks to consider moving Delia if they feel they can get a decent return. Attempting to utilize him in his current role, or lack thereof, does not seem to make sense.
What is troubling
The defensive depth in Rockford is in peril, and now that the goaltending duties fall back on Matt Tomkins and the underutilized Cale Morris, there may be a lot of one-way traffic heading toward the IceHogs’ goal. This was the case on Thursday, as the Hogs were significantly outshot 32–18 by the Griffins. Wyatt Kalynuk got his first taste in a Hawks’ uniform and may move back and forth, Alec Regula has missed a few games and on Thursday, the IceHogs announced that defenseman Chad Krys will be out 5–7 months following a successful shoulder surgery. It will be interesting to see what this means for Krys’ career. While a solid AHL contributor, he has yet to take his game to the next level, and the clock is ticking on him to make it to the NHL.
Medical Update: Defenseman Chad Krys will make a full recovery in 5-7 months after his successful surgery yesterday to repair a chronically unstable right shoulder. #Blackhawks
— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) March 11, 2021
So, while it is nice to see the IceHogs get into the win column a bit more and players such as Altybarmakian, Evan Barratt and Chris Wilkie showing decent form, as has been mentioned before, injuries and the current state of the Blackhawks will prohibit them from significantly rising in the standings as we near the halfway point of the abbreviated season.