Chicago Blackhawks goalie prospect Alec Richards hasn't had a lot of opportunities to showcase his game between the pipes this season for the team's AHL franchise in Rockford. However, the IceHogs have rallied behind Carter Hutton's backup on the way to a three-game win streak.
Richards, who took over for Hutton after 20 minutes of last Wednesday's win over Peoria, had started just two of Rockford's first 15 games. However, coach Ted Dent rode Richards through the weekend and the move had a positive effect on his troops.
Rockford had taken a 2-0 lead Wednesday at the BMO Center before the Rivermen posted three goals in the last seven minutes of the first period. Dent shook things up at the intermission, switching up his defensive pairings and pulling Hutton in favor of the former Yale goalie.
Richards stopped 16 shots in the final 40 minutes, allowing a late goal as Rockford stormed back to win 5-4. Starting both games in Lake Erie Friday and Saturday, Richards saved 66 of 71 shots. The IceHogs prevailed 4-2 Friday. Despite giving up a two-goal lead late Saturday, Rockford posted a 4-3 shootout win.
It should be interesting to see how long Dent goes with his backup before putting Hutton back in goal. Rockford hosts Texas Tuesday night and then visits Chicago Wednesday. Both goalies have similar numbers, though Hutton has been the man in net in 14 games to just six for Richards. However, Richards is 4-1 this season and the IceHogs need wins.
Lalonde To Return Against Texas: Shawn Lalonde could be returning to the lineup after serving a three-game suspension for delivering an illegal check to the head of Houston's Steven Kempfer in the second period of Rockford's 2-1 win November 16.
Lalonde was not penalized on the play, despite Kempfer losing consciousness on the ice and being removed on a stretcher. The AHL took a long look at the play while Lalonde played in the rematch between the two teams November 18 before handing down the suspension.
Shaw Returns To The Lineup: Making his return Friday from his six-game suspension was forward Andrew Shaw. A rough outing was tempered a bit when Shaw added an empty-net goal that sealed Rockford's victory. Saturday saw better results as he finished with a goal and an assist.
Morin Heating Up: Saturday's game went to a shootout, with Jeremy Morin providing the winning shot in the sixth round. Morin was the game's first star despite being pointless in regulation, but the 21-year-old wing has been finding the back of the net with six November points.
Morin had a pair of goals Wednesday against Peoria and also earned first star honors. He now leads the IceHogs with seven goals.
Saad Showing Scoring Touch: Since returning from an October leg injury, Brandon Saad has been displaying the breakaway speed that makes him the Blackhawks' top prospect.
Saad is one of the few IceHogs who has the ability to skate past defenders and has shown a real ability to finish plays. In eight games in November, Saad has four goals, including a shorthanded tally Wednesday and the game-winner Friday.