Sikura next up as young forwards try to prove themselves with Blackhawks
Injuries to Andrew Shaw, Drake Caggiula and Dylan Strome mean opportunity is knocking for a host of young Blackhawks forwards who are dying to prove they belong in the NHL full time.
Matthew Highmore (two games) and Anton Wedin (four) both received short auditions, then were sent back to Rockford.
On Sunday, the Hawks called up Dylan Sikura and put him in the lineup against Arizona at the United Center.
"This time around (I want to) prove that I can play, I can stay, and be an everyday kind of guy up here," said Sikura, who had points in seven of the IceHogs' last eight games and averaged 4.75 shots on goal. "There's times last year towards the end of the year where I was proving myself a little bit and I'm excited to get a fresh start and another chance here."
While the chances for Highmore and Wedin were brief, coach Jeremy Colliton had no complaints with either player. The decision to go with a revolving door of forwards from the IceHogs has more to do with wanting to see how multiple guys perform at the NHL level.
"Yes, the ticket to never going back is to play so well that we can't (do this)," Colliton said. "I don't think we've seen that.
"But it's also a situation where we do feel we have some depth down there and that team is playing well and we want to show those players that we haven't forgot about them. They're going to have an opportunity to prove themselves here.
"That's sort of the thinking behind having a bit of a rotation."
Sikura, a sixth-round pick of the Hawks in 2014 who had 8 assists in 33 games with them last season, skated on the third line with Alex Nylander and David Kampf. He had 2 shots on goal in 10 minutes of ice time.
Duncan Keith missed a fifth straight game Sunday with a groin injury and is unlikely to accompany the team on the upcoming three-game road trip to Vegas, Arizona and St. Louis. Coach Jeremy Colliton considers the veteran defenseman week-to-week.
Andrew Shaw and Drake Caggiula also did not play vs. the Coyotes. Shaw is considered week-to-week; Caggiula, who has been practicing, is day-to-day.
Former Blackhawks forward Nick Schmaltz had 2 assists and scored the first shootout goal for Arizona during the Coyotes' 4-3 victory at the United Center on Sunday. "Happy we got the win here and it was a fun game to be a part of," said Schamltz, who was facing his old team for the first time. He now has 17 assists. … Jonathan Toews (G, 2A) had his first 3-point game of the season … Alex DeBrincat has scored in three straight games for the first time since Games 60-62 last season. His power-play goal at 8:40 of the first period gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead. … Patrick Kane did not have a shot on goal. … Robin Lehner has allowed 6 goals on 7 shootout attempts this season. ... D-man Olli Maatta missed a third straight game for the Hawks.
He said it:
"Definitely don't take it for granted every time I get to come to this rink and play here. It's a dream come true and it's special that my family's here too."
-- Arizona's Vinnie Hinostroza, who grew up in Bartlett and played 106 games for the Hawks from 2015-18.