By Chris Block
UPDATE ON INJURED ‘HOGS
–Marko Dano was injured in a game against Manitoba Moose this past Wednesday when Moose defenseman Julian Melchiori rode Dano hard into the half wall in the Manitoba end. Dano lost his footing a bit as Melchiori finished his check and Dano crashed hard into the dasher boards. He stayed down for a moment then immediately skated off to the locker room and did not return. That was during the first period of Wednesday morning’s 5-2 IceHogs’ loss.
After Saturday’s game, IceHogs head coach Ted Dent updated Dano’s status.
“[Dano]’s getting better,” said Dent. “He’s day-to-day. Hopefully we’ll see him this week.”
Officially, Dano is out with an upper body injury.
The 21-year old Slovakian winger has just 4 goals in 33 games for the IceHogs and has been largely unimpressive since joining the Blackhawks organization.
–Kyle Cumiskey’s status remains a moderate mystery. The veteran blue liner hasn’t played since November 18th. Cumiskey began the season on the injury list and played in just 5 games in November before being sidelined again.
Cumiskey is nursing a lower body injury. He went to his doctor a few weeks back before he was cleared to begin skating in Rockford again. Cumiskey has since been skating with the IceHogs but is apparently not yet close to a return.
“He’s skating with us in morning skates now,” Dent explained. “So, he could be 2 or 3 weeks away now from playing a game.”
–Pierre-Cedric Labrie has been banged up off and on this year. Labrie has missed the last 4 games with an unspecified lower body injury.
“Labrie can hopefully skate midweek here this week and get a gauge of where he’s at,” Dent said on Saturday.
–Mark Visentin was injured in net during a January 22nd game against Iowa. He was in a walking boot for a few weeks following the injury. Dent says he isn’t exactly sure when Visentin will be ready to return other than he believed the original timeline for Visentin was anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. We’re at 4 now and Dent thought Visentin could be 2 to 3 weeks off still.
HARTMAN BENCHED IN CRUNCH TIME SATURDAY
Ryan Hartman found himself riding the pine several times in Saturday night’s 4-2 win at Chicago.
A first period penalty after the IceHogs got an early lead drew the ire of Ted Dent when the Chicago Wolves tied the game with Hartman in the penalty box.
That cost Hartman his next few power play shifts.
But it was late in the game when Hartman was noticeably absent from the ice as Rockford protected its 3-2 lead.
Dent replaced Hartman with Dane Walters on the right side of Mark McNeill’s line. Hartman did not see the ice in the final five minutes of the game.
The move paid off when Walters stole a pass in the defensive zone with 30 seconds left in regulation and fired it into the empty net in the Wolves end from the IceHogs’ blue line.
After the game, Dent admitted Hartman’s penalty issues were a factor in Saturday’s benching.
“Well, he didn’t have a great game,” Dent began.
“Its one of those games where he was fighting the puck a bit. To try to win the hockey game, I thought it was in the best interest of the team to make a change and flip some players.”
But Dent did address Hartman’s issues with staying out of the box and that factoring into Saturday’s move.
“Well, penalties are an issue we’ve dealt with Harty for a bit here. That’s part of it. He took one in the first period that resulted in a goal against. And he’s got to learn. That’s part of his maturity process as a player.”
Hartman has 28 points on the season, which is tied with Mark McNeill and Jake Dowell for the most on the IceHogs. Hartman’s 99 penalty minutes are the most on the team ahead of Garret Ross’ 97.
BICKELL IN CRUISE CONTROL
Bryan Bickell’s second go-around in Rockford this season hasn’t looked anything like the first.
Back in November, Bickell skated like a guy with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He looked like a player who was too good for the AHL.
In that month he spent with the IceHogs, Bickell posted 7 goals and 7 assists in 12 games before being recalled by the Blackhawks. Obviously, that success did not carry into the top league and Bickell again found his ice time dwindling and was again sent to Rockford.
Over that month, Bickell was praised for his professionalism and positive attitude.
When Bickell was sent back to Rockford in mid-January, he had a harder time finding his motivation.
“He’s settled in a bit here,” Ted Dent said on Saturday.
“The first, maybe 5 to 7 games he came down, the second time, he wasn’t doing a whole lot. But I think he’s gotten in a groove the last three or four games. He’s playing better hockey. He’s shooting the puck and finishing checks – he’s doing a good job of that recently.”
Watching Bickell the past couple games, either Dent is being overly generous in his evaluation of Bickell, or he had been especially ineffective previously.
In his current Rockford voyage, Bickell has 3 goals and 6 assists in 13 games. He started out with points in 4 of his first five games (1g 4a) but since then the only night he’s stood out was a 2 goal performance on Valentine’s Day in a 4-2 win over Grand Rapids at the BMO.
Bickell did pick up an assist for passing the puck to Dennis Robertson at the point on Saturday night. Robertson flung a puck on net that Pheonix Copley should have stopped. Bickell, as Dent said, is shooting more (he was credited with 6 shots against the Wolves) but you get the sense watching Bickell he’s playing just enough to not get hurt (instead of taking the puck to the net himself, Bickell is more inclined to wait for a teammate or pass off to someone else) as he bides his time, hoping to be traded before the deadline.
It’s possible none of this would hurt Bickell’s trade value, whatever it is these days. Virtually all the pre-trade deadline scouting is done. There were only a few scouts in Rosemont on Saturday and those were mostly regulars anyhow since they’re stationed in the region.
ICEHOGS TOP RIVAL WOLVES IN ROSEMONT
Rockford halted a moderate recent slide with a 4-2 victory in Rosemont last night over the Chicago Wolves. Dennis Robertson, Ryan Haggerty, Kirill Gotovets and Dane Walters were the goal scorers for the visitors.
The win put the IceHogs at 29-13-5-4 on the season and back into 1st place by two points in the Central Division, passing the Milwaukee Admirals. Milwaukee hosts the Iowa Wild on Sunday. Rockford then travels to Milwaukee on Wednesday for a battle for the top spot in the division.
Going into Saturday’s game, Rockford had gone 1-3-3-0 in its previous seven games. The three overtime losses all came on the road in their only road games in that seven game span. But in that stretch were back-to-back home losses to the Manitoba Moose, who were just 4-16-2-2 on the road coming in to games this past Wednesday and Friday at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.
There was also the 9-1 drubbing the Grand Rapids Griffins handed the IceHogs back on February 5th at the BMO, a shocking defeat in Rockford’s home building.
So, the IceHogs 4-2 win in Chicago on Saturday was a much-needed boost in a positive direction for a team that has been hurt by the losses of Viktor Svedberg and Erik Gustafsson on the blue line.
Rockford just finished up a stretch of 15 games in which 12 were on home ice. They went 7-4-3-1 in that span with the three road games being those 3 overtime defeats.
Saturday began a 5-game road swing for Rockford. The next 4 games are all against the three teams trailing the IceHogs in the Central division standings. Friday and Saturday the ‘Hogs are in Cleveland to face the 3rd place Lake Erie Monsters. And on Wednesday March 2nd, Rockford will be in Grand Rapids to face the current 4th place Grand Rapids Griffins.
The IceHogs return home March 5th and 6th for another back-to-back set with Lake Erie.
Other IceHogs notes:
—Rob Scuderi skated in his second game with Rockford on Saturday. Other than backing up into no man’s land and looking bad on Danny Kristo’s 2nd period tally, Scuderi looked fine. The AHL should be more his speed at this point of his career.
Ted Dent praised Scuderi’s professionalism in how he’s handled the situation (being sent down to the AHL) thus far in his post game media scrum after Saturday night’s win in Rosemont.
–With Bryan Bickell in cruise control, Kyle Baun is like another boat anchor tied to that Tanner Kero line. Baun isn’t capable of much more than getting in first on the forecheck and banging some bodies around. That’s fine, because it’s a needed element and Baun does bring it on a nightly basis. However, Baun can’t do much with the puck when he has control of it. Thus, if Bickell is just going to cruise around waiting for the puck to come to him, that line is bound to be inconsistent to ineffective in the offensive end. Baun was set up for a glorious chance on the back door last night and shoveled it right into Pheonix Copley’s right pad.
—Jonathan Carlsson appears to have improved greatly since he was last in the Blackhawks’ organization in 2010 when he played for the Toledo Walleye. He saved a goal in the first period last night when he dove to prevent a puck from reaching an open side in Leighton’s net as the veteran netminder was moving left to right.
Carlsson, now 27, since spent 5 years playing in Europe before returning to North America this season where he’s been playing for Evansville in the ECHL.
Last season, Carlsson skated for Södertälje in Sweden’s B league (at the time) along with current Blackhawks defense prospect, Robin Press. So, the Hawks have had eyes on Carlsson in recent years as well. Carlsson signed a PTO (25 game contract) with the IceHogs this past week. He’s here for depth but given Rockford is short on right-handed shots, he’s moved ahead of guys like Nolan Valleau, Nick Mattson and Sam Jardine who are all marginal prospects at best anyhow.
Ted Dent’s lines Saturday at Chicago
26-Garret Ross / 28-Mark McNeill / 24-Ryan Hartman
44-Bryan Bickell / 10-Tanner Kero / 27-Kyle Baun
14-Chris DeSousa / 11- Jake Dowell / 39-Ryan Haggerty
17-Michael Liambas / 16-Dane Walters / 38-Dan Ciampini
5-Cameron Schilling / 29-Ville Pokka
3-Rob Scuderi / 25-Jonathan Carlsson
20-Dennis Robertson / 2-Kirill Gotovets
35-Mac Carruth (backup)
Scratches: D-4-Nick Mattson… D-7-Nolan Valleau
Injured: G-30-Mark Visentin (lower)… D-15-Kyle Cumiskey (lower)… LW-22-Pierre Cedric Labrie (lower)… RW-56-Marko Dano (upper)…
Recalled to NHL-Chicago: D-6-Erik Gustafsson… D-8-Viktor Svedberg… C-12-Dennis Rasmussen… C-18-Phillip Danault… C/W-23-Vinnie Hinostroza… LW-53-Brandon Mashinter…