Blackhawks' Strome getting another chance to prove himself
The Dylan Strome watch is on.
After sitting out the last two games as a healthy scratch, Strome skated on the wing with Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach during practice at Fifth Third Arena on Tuesday.
The veteran forward must really feel like he's gone through the blender this season, as he's jumped in and out of the lineup; sees power play time when he is in; has centered the third line; and now gets thrown back on a wing.
"Yeah, for sure it is (hard)," said coach Derek King, whose team begins a three-game road trip in Washington on Thursday. "But this is NHL hockey. This is pro hockey. You've got to be mentally ready and prepared for it -- and he will be.
"It's just whether he's gonna win the battles, and when he doesn't have the puck (to) play the right way."
King -- just like former coach Jeremy Colliton -- is having a difficult time finding a consistent role for Strome. On the one hand, King sees Strome as a natural center "because he likes to cruise a bit." Strome's also a good passer and has a knack of finding linemates as scoring plays develop.
He's not as comfortable on the wing, where you often have to go into corners to battle for pucks.
"The board work gets tough," King said.
We'll see what happens on the road trip, but it's clearly a big one for Strome, who has just 1 goal and 2 assists in 12 games.
The Hawks sent the slumping Philipp Kurashev to Rockford and called up former seventh-round pick Josiah Slavin on Monday. Slavin (4G, 4A in 15 games) skated with Ryan Carpenter and Reese Johnson at practice.
The 6-foot-3, 187-pound forward is from Erie, Colorado and played 27 games for the USHL's Chicago Steel during the 2018-19 season.
"He's probably been one of (Rockford's) most consistent forwards," King said. "I've had him, I know what he's about. He's a big kid, he wins a lot of puck battles. ... He's good at faceoffs and I think it's time to give him a reward."
Josiah is the younger brother of Jaccob Slavin, who has played 449 games for Carolina from 2015-21.
"He just shouted, 'Woo hoo!' and just said, 'I'm really happy for you, bro,'" Josiah said.
Slavin, who admitted he's "not the prettiest skater," has worked hard to improve his stride.
"It's a long season, right?" Slavin said. "So you gotta be the most efficient in every stride that you have. That way you don't wear yourself out in the first 20-30 games."
Talkin' with Toews:
Derek King had about a five-minute discussion with Jonathan Toews after practice Tuesday. King said most of it revolved around the lines and the power play, with Toews hoping to be moved out of the 'bumper' spot on the PP.
The coaching staff will "pow wow" on the power play Wednesday. As for where Toews will end up? "You'll just have to wait until tomorrow's practice," said a smiling King.
After seeing his ice time dip to as low as 6.5 minutes in a win over Nashville on November 7, defenseman Erik Gustafsson has steadily regained the coaching staff's trust.
"He tends to overthink it and (believes) everything's a home run play or a highlight play and it was getting him in trouble," said coach Derek King. "But he's really settled it down and you can see by the minutes he's played from Day 1 to now."
Gustafsson, who is now quarterbacking the top power-play unit, has averaged almost 19 minutes of ice time in the last five games.
Defenseman Calvin de Haan missed practice Tuesday with lower back soreness. He is considered day to day. "Probably just old age creeping up on him," quipped coach Derek King. ... Rockford's Lukas Reichel was placed in concussion protocol Tuesday. The forward went head first into the side boards during the IceHogs' game against Milwaukee on Sunday. There is no timetable for his return.
He said it:
"Sometimes he tells me I'm slow. Sometimes he yells to the goalie coach: 'Fix the goalie!'"
Marc-Andre Fleury on what Patrick Kane says after scoring during practice