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The Chicago Blackhawks have had their fair share of misfortune this season, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Losing Taylor Hall to a season-ending ACL injury and Corey Perry to workplace misconduct were significant blows. But now the team is dealing with numerous injuries that are severely depleting their already diminished roster. Here’s the rundown of the latest.

Jones Injury Leaves Huge Hole on the Back End

The Blackhawks defensive corps was filled with youngsters from the start of the season. Alex Vlasic and Wyatt Kaiser began the campaign with the big club, as did 19-year-old Kevin Korchinski.  

Injuries to Jarred Tinordi and Kaiser being sent down to the Rockford IceHogs have also allowed call ups for Isaak Phillips, Louis Crevier and most recently Filip Roos. With all this rotation of young blood, veterans Seth Jones and Connor Murphy were the glue holding everything together.

Seth Jones has been the backbone of the Chicago Blackhawks’ defense this season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Which is why it was a shock to hear Jones was not on the ice for practice on Tuesday, Dec. 12. It turns out Jones sustained a shoulder injury in the 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Dec. 10. He did not make the trip for the contests against the Edmonton Oilers (Dec. 12) and the Seattle Kraken (Dec. 14).

With Korchinski out since Dec. 9 due to a family matter (more on this below) and Tinordi in concussion protocol, this left Vlasic and Crevier as the top defensive pairing, Phillips and Murphy as the second pairing and Roos and Nikita Zaitsev on the third pairing. Needless to say, it looked like a recipe for disaster against a high-power Oilers offense featuring Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Well, the kids did all right! Sure, they lost the game 4-1. But they held their own on defense considering their state. Vlasic especially stepped up. He finished the night with a team-high 24:58 minutes of ice time, registering one shot on goal, three hits, two takeaways and four blocked shots. He also quarterbacked the top power play unit with literally no practice at it.

Related – Blackhawks Emulating Recent Cup Champs with Defense Changes

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Alas, the group didn’t fare so well against the Kraken, who picked the Blackhawks’ defense apart and won the game 7-1. Jones gets a bad rap because of his contract, and his stats don’t always look the greatest because he’s on the ice so much. But not having him available just goes to show what a valuable player he is for the Blackhawks.

On Saturday, Dec. 16, the Blackhawks put Jones on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 10, the day he was injured. There is not yet any timeline for his return.

Vlasic Sustains Injury as Well

Just when Vlasic was finding his stride, he was held out for most of the third period against the Kraken last Thursday. After the game, head coach Luke Richardson said it was just for precautionary reasons since the team was losing so badly.

Alex Vlasic has stepped up on defense while the Chicago Blackhawks deal with injuries. Now he has an injury of his own.(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

But Vlasic didn’t participate in practice on Saturday and the team announced he indeed was suffering from an upper body injury. Coach Richardson said he will be a game-time decision against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday (Dec. 17). Kaiser was called up in case he’s not able to go.

The fact that Vlasic will be a game-time decision hopefully means it’s not a serious injury and he’ll be able to return to the lineup soon.  

Korchinski’s Suffers the Loss of His Father

I mentioned earlier that Korchinski has not been available since Dec. 9 due to a family matter. We found out last Friday that his dad tragically passed away.

Very sad to hear the tragic passing of @UsaskLaw
Alumn, former @BladesHockey and @HuskiesMHKY star player Larry Korchinski, dad of Kevin Korchinski. We have missed his presence on the Senior Alumini the last couple years and will miss him even more now.

— Brian Pfefferle (@BrianPfefferle) December 15, 2023

Since the funeral fell on an off-day for the Blackhawks, they arranged for the entire team to attend the services on their way back from Seattle. They were very fortunate to work this out, and I’m sure it was beneficial for Korchinski and his family to have that kind of support from the team. It also reinforces the family culture the Blackhawks are trying to build, as Nick Foligno so eloquently put it.

“It was a good reminder for all of us going to that funeral and being able to support Kevin and his family, and making us realize that when a brother hurts, we all hurt.”

—Nick Foligno on the death of Kevin Korchinski’s father

— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) December 16, 2023

Coach Richardson said the Blackhawks will give Korchinski as much time as he needs to mourn this loss, saying “we’re ready to help him out when he gets back here.” If nothing else, the routine of the NHL schedule should eventually give Korchinski a sense of normalcy again, and a bit of a distraction from his sadness.  

Reichel Back Up on the Top Line

Lukas Reichel hasn’t had the start to this 2023-24 season that he, or the Blackhawks, had hoped for. He was supposed to be one of the talented forwards that could complement Connor Bedard. Instead, Reichel has only registered two goals (both on the power play) and six points in 28 games played.

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The Blackhawks have tried seemingly everything to jumpstart Reichel, but to no avail. He began the season centering the second line, but when that didn’t work out they moved him to the wing. They even tried him on Bedard’s wing for a handful of games in late November.

Lukas Reichel has struggled so far this season with the Chicago Blackhawks. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Finally, on Dec. 3 against the Minnesota Wild, Reichel was a healthy scratch to send a message that the Blackhawks wanted more out of him. When he returned to the lineup he was placed on the fourth line, where he remained for six games. Said Richardson on Dec. 13 on the day before the Kraken game,

Richardson on Reichel: “He’s got to have more fight in him. We saw that one of the first games back after sitting out… I think he’s just down on himself. It’s pretty hard for a coach to give a player confidence. All we can do is show them some pointers… He’s a young player…

— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) December 13, 2023

When the Blackhawks were losing so badly in Seattle, Richardson shuffled the lines in an attempt to get some offense going. He once again placed Reichel on the top line with Bedard and Philipp Kurashev.

In practice this past Saturday Reichel was on that top line in line rushes, leading one to believe he will be deployed there on Sunday (Dec. 17) when the Blackhawks host the Canucks. Hopefully this second stint on the top line will be what Reichel needs to gain his confidence back. I know we’re all rooting for him. The team has been losing a lot, and morale is starting to suffer. Bedard is obviously the bright spot this season, and he certainly should have more support around him. Perhaps Reichel can finally be part of that support.

Other Blackhawks Notes

In the absence of Jones, Jason Dickinson has been wearing the “A” on his sweater as an alternate captain, joining Murphy and Foligno. Since Perry (who was the fourth alternate captain) is no longer with the team, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dickinson keeps this designation for the remainder of the season.

Forward Tyler Johnson played in his 700th NHL game when the Blackhawks played the Kraken on Dec. 14. The 33-year-old has already had a stellar career, most notably winning the Stanley Cup twice as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Congrats Tyler!

— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) December 15, 2023

Andreas Athanasiou has been out of the lineup since Dec. 6 with a groin injury. He still hasn’t started skating yet, but he’s been working out in the gym. Athanasiou’s timeline to return has been a mystery, but hopefully we’ll gain some more clarity soon.

Related – Blackhawks News & Rumors: Dickinson, Granato, Dickinson & More

The Blackhawks might have a depleted lineup, and it shows with three losses in a row and only two wins out of their first eight games in December. But with seven more games to go, they’ll look to regroup and try to close out the year on a high note. Perhaps they’ll have some look luck coming their way after a lot of recent bad luck.

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The post Blackhawks News & Rumors: Korchinski, Reichel, Injuries & More appeared first on WorldNewsEra.


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