Dec 182011

By Chris Block

Jeremy Morin left the BMO Harris Bank Center late Saturday night in route for Chicago.  Morin has been recalled to the Blackhawks.

The 20-year old winger received word of his recall after an IceHogs’ 4-2 victory over Milwaukee.

Morin missed Saturday night’s IceHogs contest serving the final game of a 3-game suspension he incurred as result of last Sunday’s elbowing incident on Milwaukee Admirals’ forward Joel Champagne.  Morin miss all three IceHogs games this past week.  The team does not play again until Wednesday night, when the Toronto Marlies visit the BMO.

In 23 games this season in Rockford, Morin has 5 goals and 10 assists.  He’s a plus-1 with 56 penalty minutes.

After missing 9 months with post-concussion symptoms as a result of an Andrey Zubarev hip-check on January 15, 2011 at the Chicago Wolves, Morin finally returned to action on October 14th in Abbotsford.

Morin scored on his second shift in his return, on his first shot on goal.  He also scored in his second game back, also in Abbotsford, two days later.  Since, Morin has 3 goals in 21 contests.  Two of those came in one game, at Peoria on November 11th.

Over his last 13 games, Morin has a goal and 9 helpers and is a minus-1.  Understandably, after being sidelined a tremendous length of time, it took Morin awhile to work himself back into peak game shape. He’s been playing his best hockey of the season of late, creating opportunities for his linemates, winning battles along the walls and getting pucks to the net.

The issue for Morin has been finding his range and the target on that wicked shot he possesses.  Over those most recent 13 games, Morin’s shooting percentage is a lowly 2.4%.

On the physical side, Morin has shown no signs of apprehension or fear of the rough stuff or the danger areas he’d been accustomed to prior to the concussion.  It’s been the exact opposite, actually.  Morin has dropped the gloves on three occasions already this season.  The first time he did was in his fourth game back, against the Wolves’ Antoine Roussel.

It should be noted that Morin did not learn of his recall until 9:40pm on Saturday night, after Rockford’s game.  And he did not play on Saturday.  The Blackhawks had members of their hockey staff on hand in Rockford observing the game.  So, presumably Morin was not the only candidate for this recall.

The Blackhawks are expected to be without Dan Carcillo for the second-consecutive game when they host the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.  Ben Smith had been recalled from Rockford, after he was sent back to the IceHogs earlier in the week, for Friday’s game with Anaheim, but wasn’t used (John Scott was placed at forward) and was returned to the IceHogs on Saturday morning.

It could also be that with a spot opening up potentially again on Sunday with Carcillo remaining out of action, Morin is simply getting a short-term look-see from the organization.

As noted, Morin’s game was on the rise last week when he hit Joel Champagne with an accidental elbow, knocking the Admirals player out momentarily.  The AHL disciplinary decision-makers deemed Morin’s play “reckless” and thus suspended him.

With this past week lost due to the suspension, and a spot open in Chicago for the moment, this could be just as much about keeping Morin rolling in real game action as it is a taste of the NHL again.

In any event, it’s opportunity.

Update on health status of Alexander Salak

Injured in the opening seconds of the second period against Lake Erie on December 2nd, IceHogs goaltender Alexander Salak has missed the past 8 games with a left leg injury.

When asked for an update on Salak’s status, head coach Ted Dent indicated that it could still be awhile before the Czech netminder is back between the pipes.

“He still has the lower body injury,” Dent told us.  “I can’t see him being back until at least after the holidays.”

In the first few days after the injury occurred, Salak was considered day-to-day.

We don’t know what the injury is other than a source confirmed this is not a knee problem, but a sprain to another part of the leg.

In Salak’s absence, Carter Hutton was recalled from the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.  Its not a stretch to state that Hutton has stabilized the Hogs and quite possibly saved the team’s season, at least for the time being.

Hutton has started 6 times since the recall and is 3-2-0-1.  He owns a .910 save percentage and an average of 2.94 goals against.

Hutton arrived during a time when Alec Richards was struggling with his confidence and Salak was carrying the bulk of the workload.  In the two starts Richards has seen since the Salak injury, he’s allowed 8 goals on 74 shots.

Richards wasn’t bad in Friday’s 5-2 loss to Peoria.  Of the four he gave up in that game, one of those was a bad one.

But for now, Hutton has taken the starter’s role and put Richards’ status in jeopardy whenever Salak should be healthy enough to return to action.

Which as Ted Dent indicates, probably won’t be for at least another few weeks.

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