Blackhawks’ undermanned defense steps up, securing win over Blue Jackets

Calvin de Haan and the Blackhawks’ defense held firm Tuesday in a 4-2 victory. | AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

Jakub Galvas sparkled in his NHL debut and Connor Murphy and Calvin de Haan both scored in the Hawks’ 4-2 win — an impressive feat with both Seth Jones and Jake McCabe in COVID-19 protocols.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Seth Jones’ homecoming literally didn’t pass the test.

Jones was pulled from the ice during Blackhawks morning skate Tuesday and later added to COVID-19 protocol, preventing him from making an awkward yet momentous return to the city he forced a trade out of last year. Jake McCabe, Jones’ top-pair partner of late, was also put in COVID protocols.

But in their stead, the Hawks’ ragtag defensive lineup rallied together and produced one of their better performances this season, securing a feel-good 4-2 win over the Blue Jackets.

“We had to get back, stop in the [defensive] zone, help our ‘D’ out, support them, manage the puck through the neutral zone and go to work in the offensive zone,” interim coach Derek King said. “For the most part, we did a good job.”

The Hawks will return to Chicago pleased with the outcome of their road trip — they finished it 2-1-0 despite the inexcusable loss to the Coyotes — but nervous about COVID spread, with five players and two staff members having contracted the virus.

Brandon Hagel, Erik Gustafsson and Sam Lafferty have now spent five days on the protocol list, but head trainer Mike Gapski and head equipment manager Troy Parchman — along with Jones and McCabe — were newly added Tuesday.

“You never know day-to-day,” King said pregame. “It could be spreading through us; it could not be. Whatever it is, we just deal with it. If guys go down with it, so be it. We’ll just plunk guys in there where they need to be.”

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Plunk guys in King did, and with seamless results. Most notably, the Hawks might’ve discovered a hidden gem in Jakub Galvas, who essentially inherited Jones’ role in his first career NHL game and thrived in it.

The 22-year-old Czech rookie, who’d already impressed Hawks management during training camp and in the AHL earlier this season, masterfully handled a massive 23-minute, 40-second workload. Not since Duncan Keith in 2005 has a Hawk played that much in his NHL debut.

Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Blackhawks defenseman Jakub Galvas played 23:40 in his NHL debut Tuesday.

Galvas quarterbacked the Hawks’ top power play unit while also, at even strength, leading the team in shot-attempt ratio (65%) and expected-goals ratio (77%).

“I’ll be honest, I was very surprised how good he played,” King said. “I knew he was pretty calm with the puck, and could skate and make plays, and he’s a smart player. But he looked really good today. He stepped up. That’s not easy.”

“He looked really comfortable with the puck,” Murphy added. “[With] …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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