The Chicago Blackhawks are now 0-2 this preseason after a 4-1 defeat in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Come back in off the ledge, good 'Hawks fans—the picture will start to clear up starting Friday night.
The paring down of the roster should be well underway by the time Chicago hits the ice at the United Center tonight to meet with the Washington Capitals, and by the time you settle in for Sunday's tilt at Detroit, we'll begin to have a better feel for who is really competing for jobs for the rest of training camp.
The Blackhawks squad sent to play the Penguins was short on star power, looking very much like the preseason opener in Saskatoon.
Michael Frolik was the classiest of the bunch, scoring Chicago's lone goal on a sweet play. Taking Sami Lepisto's lead pass and cutting across the middle, Frolik five-holed both the defenseman and the goalie to find the net.
Second-round pick Brandon Saad got to skate in his hometown Thursday, but should be sent back to his junior club this weekend, if not today. There are actually a host of other players who probably won't last the weekend in 'Hawks camp.
Corey Crawford looks to get the start in goal against Washington, with Alec Richards perhaps backing him up. Richards may get a sniff of crease time tonight, but will likely be sent down to Rockford as the Ice Hogs prepare to begin their training camp Sunday.
I'd expect guys like Andrew Shaw, Rob Flick and Peter LeBlanc, who are under AHL contracts, to be in Rockford following any action they see on Friday night. Brian Fahey, a non-roster invitee under contract in Rockford, will likely join them along with young defenseman Ben Youds.
We won't see Patrick Kane or Marian Hossa skating against the Capitals, but there will still be more familiar faces on the United Center ice for the home preseason opener. Dave Bolland is set to play, as are Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
By the way, we won't see former Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer in the building, as he won't be making the trip. Ryan Potulny, who had a cup of coffee with the 'Hawks last season, will be skating for the Capitals.
By the start of next week, we should be watching players on the ice who have some legitimate hope of appearing with Chicago during the regular season.
Brandon Pirri and Rob Klinkhammer are two players who could get some further evaluation in the second week of camp. The backup goalie competition also figures to heat up.
The center positions will begin to fall into a pecking order, with players like Marcus Kruger, Ben Smith and Rostislav Olesz continuing to make their cases for inclusion in the lineup.
The Blackhawks are winless thus far in camp, but there's little reason to worry. We'll soon have a roster to properly scrutinize.