The Blackhawks just continue to fall victim to the injury bug.
Already without Patrick Sharp, the Hawks will also be without Jonathan Toews when they meet the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. The Preds beat them handily on Saturday, and that was without Ryan Suter.
It’s unknown how much time Toews will miss, but he’s considered day-to-day for right now. Luckily for the Hawks, they only have one game left before the All Star Break, and well over a week before they hit the ice again after Tuesday.
What the injury does do, other than likely take Toews out of the All Star festivities this weekend, is continue to expose the Blackhawks’ lack of depth in the middle.
They’ve been lucky to this point, as they’ve been able to hold it down in the middle, especially recently. Dave Bolland has performed very well, Marcus Kruger has been solid since returning from his concussion, and Jamal Mayers is holding down the fourth line.
Without Toews, though, that whole rotation becomes very questionable. Bolland will man the middle on the top line, with Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Kane. Kruger will continue to play between Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa.
That leaves Michael Frolik as the addition to the middle with Toews out. Frolik has played primarily wing since coming to Chicago, and hasn’t been extremely effective in the middle.
Is this a reason to panic? Not quite yet. We still don’t know how long the injury will hold him out, and they’re getting Patrick Sharp back at the beginning of the Western Canada road swing next week. All indications are that his injury isn’t anything too serious. So what does his injury mean for the team?
Recently, I’ve been considering the fact that the Hawks could roll with Toews, Kruger, Bolland, and Mayers as their four centers and be perfectly fine, without adding anyone at the deadline. That would leave defense as their only concern.
What the injury does is make me reconsider that thought. This team needs depth in the middle and a guy that can step in and play well in the absence of any of the four, especially Toews. Someone similar to an Eric Belanger would appear to fit the bill.
There’s still no reason to panic, but an injury to anyone at center, whether it’s Toews, Bolland, or Kruger, shows how thin the Hawks actually are at center and demonstrates that they do need to add, no matter how well they play when all four centermen are healthy.