Chicago Blackhawks AHL prospect update, 2/2: IceHogs slumping in ‘23
It’s that time again when we check in at the Chicago Blackhawks Prospects to play in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs.
The IceHogs have had a rough patch of late, losing seven of nine and falling from second place in the AHL’s Central Division to fifth. They’ve struggled to score lately – they’ve only managed 2.1 goals per game in that span – but more importantly, they’ve had major trouble keeping goals they’ve been surpassed against and allowing on average 4.1 goals per game. To make matters worse, four of the losses to rivals came from within the division, which is the main reason for their drop in the standings.
Rockford managed to win their last game in overtime against the Manitoba Moose 3-2, ending a seven-game losing streak, but they really need to regroup to get back into playoff position.
One area to watch out for is the players who have returned from their NHL stints with the Blackhawks as they had some issues. And goalie Jaxson Stauber has yet to play a game with the IceHogs since the last updateso it won’t be included.
Stats: 40 points (14G, 26A), 75 SOG in 40 games played
For the first time this season, Reichel wasn’t producing at a points-per-game pace between prospect refreshes. Not only that, his last eight games included his worst offensive performance since joining the AHL last season, in which he had just four assists. It’s a testament to how overwhelmingly good Reichel was this season earlier that his year-to-date record is still impressive: 40 points in 40 games. But while offensive issues are a team-wide thing, Reichel definitely hasn’t looked like himself since he was transferred from the Blackhawks on Jan. 14.
He had a silky smooth shootout winner against the Moose, but this might be his most interesting performance of late:
Stats: 26 points (14G, 12A), 80 SOG in 35 games played
Guttman is one of the few players who seems to be playing at a similar level as usual, although he’s not quite as rewarded for the effort. Still, his four points (3G, 1A) in nine games is third among the points-per-game prospects for the IceHogs behind only Reichel and Galvas.
His impressive puck handling skills and ability to maintain possession well despite his smaller size has been featured in two of his three goals since the last update:
Stats: 14 points (3 G, 11 A), 61 SOG in 34 games played
The good news for Hardman is that he’s finally been consistent in the Rockford lineup, playing in all nine games since the last update. The bad news for him is that he only had one goal and one assist in the same span, meaning he’s falling behind in terms of production this season.
Hardman has been adequate defensively, but he’d have to be a lot better to have any chance of a minor role in the NHL since his offense has declined so much.
Stats: 9 points (3G, 6A), 43 SOG in 27 games played
Unlike Hardman, Slavin is the type of player who could make a move to the NHL just because of his defensive strength. While the rest of the team has been lacking in his own end lately, Slavin still made every effort to stop plays and play hard on the forecheck.
Slavin also scored two goals in nine games – rare moments that saw his diligent and hard-working style translate into production this season.
Stats: 12 points (5G, 7A), 53 SOG in 33 games played
Teplý, another potential forward who’s had a tough season, still hasn’t managed to find his groove with or without the puck. He recorded zero points in the six games he played, bringing his pointless streak to 11 games. And although Teplý has never been particularly strong defensively, he seemed more relaxed than usual.
Stats: 3 points (0G, 3A), 53 SOG in 38 games played
Crevier was one of the players who struggled the most in recent games. It’s not surprising that he’s had zero points in his last seven games, but it’s a bit odd that he’s been so inconsistent when it comes to playing on his own end. The coverage hasn’t been great, his reaction time has been slower and he’s mishandled the puck more often in recent games than perhaps the rest of the season combined. For a normally calm player, Crevier’s mistakes have been a little too loud lately.
Stats: 22 points (1G, 16A), 43 SOG in 41 games played
Like Guttman above, Galvas has been one of those players who’s been looking very engaged lately, especially offensively. He has five assists in his last nine games, but it felt like he could have scored even more if his teammates could finish better.
Galvas was also solid defensively, but more subdued than his offense.
Stats: 18 points (3 G, 14 A), 47 SOG in 29 games played
Like Reichel, Phillips hasn’t really looked the same in the four games with Rockford since being traded from the Blackhawks. He wasn’t necessarily Poorly, but he just wasn’t the same compared to the high quality he played earlier in the season. He looked more like himself in the last game against Manitoba, where he received an assist and put in a strong defensive performance. Hopefully he can build on that momentum to get back in shape.
While still at Chicago, Phillips sat down for a lengthy discussion with NBC Sports Chicago reporter Charlie Roumeliotis:
Stats: 16 points (5G, 11A), 86 SOG in 34 games played
After a point-per-game tally in early January, Regula has gone stone cold offensively in his last eight games with zero points. Obviously several defenders haven’t scored a point lately, but it’s shocking that Regula was one of them considering he’s had an uptrend before. The biggest problem for the 6ft 4 defender was his lack of pace on transitions, an area where he usually excels.
Stats: 8 points (3G, 5A), 35 SOG in 18 games played
There hasn’t been much to say about Roos since the last update. He has just one assist in his last six games and his defensive performance has been mostly unimpressive apart from a few rough spots where he turned the puck.
Roos was recalled to Chicago on January 23 but did not play a game with the Blackhawks.
Stats: 6 points (1 G, 5 A), 49 SOG in 23 games played
Vlasic has scored twice in his last nine games which is solid for a man who tends to stay at home. Defensively, he was one of the better players for Rockford in a time when defense wasn’t the team’s forte. There are a few games where Vlasic has had a difficult time – he’s fickle when it comes to using his physicality properly, or at all – but he’s usually been a bright spot.
Rockford head coach Anders Sorensen recently commented on Vlasic’s defensive improvement:
“His positioning on the ice was very good and because of his length and range he is difficult to avoid. Add to that the positioning and it’s really difficult to play against him.”
For more comments from Sorenson and Vlasic on his progress as a player, see this article by Ben Pope of the solar times:
Alex Vlasic is pushing himself outside of his comfort zone this season at Rockford, especially when it comes to holding the puck.
“I want to learn what I can and I will only learn from mistakes.”
New story: https://t.co/iBv7YmrPb6
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) January 14, 2023
Stats: .862 save percentage, 4.17 goals against average in 5 AHL games
Unfortunately, Söderblom’s bumpy season continued recently. He has played in five of the nine games since the last update and has conceded an average of 4.4 goals in that span, with a save percentage of .843. The team up front was poor defensively and his groin injury may have affected his game, but the Swedish keeper just wasn’t as good as in the past.
Hopefully Soderblom can repeat his last game in which he saved 31 of 33 shots for a .939 percent save against the Moose.
Next: The IceHogs have two very important games this Friday and Saturday against the Iowa Wild, another team ahead of them overall in the Central Division. With less than 30 games remaining in the season, Rockford needs to start beating its division opponents more regularly as they catch up.