Chicago Blackhawks: Sit the Extra D-Men and Bring Up the Kids from Rockford

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IMarch 7, 2013

Ben Smith does a lot of the things Andrew Shaw has done with the Blackhawks, minus the pechant for penalties.
Ben Smith does a lot of the things Andrew Shaw has done with the Blackhawks, minus the pechant for penalties.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks' 3-2 victory over Colorado Wednesday night was a costly one in terms of manpower. It's possible that at least two skaters could miss significant time.

It might be time to turn to the talent in Rockford.

Both Patrick Sharp and Andrew Shaw left the contest with injuries. Shaw took an elbow to the head, courtesy of Paul Stastny, midway through the second period. Sharp was checked into the boards by Ryan O'Byrne and went to the locker room in a bad way several minutes into the third period.

Marian Hossa was a late scratch Wednesday with an upper-body issue. Coupled with Michael Frolik still suffering from the flu and the team sending Brandon Bollig to Rockford earlier in the day, Chicago is a bit short on forwards at the moment.

While this shortage sorts itself out, coach Joel Quenneville has two options. He can make do with what he has on his roster or ask for some IceHogs.

I hope Rockford has already received a call, because the options I've seen as of late just plain stink.

Sheldon Brookbank has skated at forward twice in the last week, including 2:31 of action Wednesday night. Fellow defenseman Steve Montador was reinstated to the roster Wednesday, which is great news for him but also allows Quenneville to consider skating him as a forward.

Montador and Brookbank for Sharpie and Shaw? No thanks.

Assuming Hossa and Frolik are able to return to play in Colorado Friday night, the 'Hawks still only have 11 healthy forwards at this point. If one of them isn't ready to come back, then there are at least two spots to fill. Instead of plugging the holes with little used blueliners, why not bring up some deserving IceHogs?

The first guy I'd call up is Ben Smith, who should already be in Chicago if not for a thumb injury suffered back in January. He has been back in action since Friday and had a pair of goals in his return. He can fill Shaw's role to a certain degree. Smith has been very adept at screening the goalie and redirecting shots into the net as Shaw did on Chicago's first goal against the Avalanche.

There is no replacing Sharp for what he does for the 'Hawks, but Jeremy Morin or Jimmy Hayes have been playing well in Rockford. Brandon Pirri is also finding the net on a regular basis.

I would rather see any of those skaters (even if Pirri plays out of position on the wing) than to have a seventh or eighth defenseman patrolling the ice. Bollig was perceived as dead weight for playing four or five minutes a game. What do you call Brookbank's two- to three-minute stints in his last two games versus Detroit and Colorado?

With the lead Chicago has built in the standings via an 11-game winning streak, Quenneville could dress Mike Kitchen and Jamie Kompon and still come out all right. Bringing up some more youngsters cannot hurt the Blackhawks any more than skating guys out of position.

Much has been made of the talent the organization possesses. If Shaw and Brandon Saad have been deserving of big minutes, it is likely that players like Smith, Morin, Hayes and Pirri could help hold down the fort while some skaters are sidelined.