The Chicago Blackhawks will employ a few lineup changes in their second game of the 2021-22 regular season. Ahead of tonight's contest against the New Jersey Devils, Hawks' head coach Jeremy Colliton announced the following personnel swaps.
Lining Up Lankinen and Fleury
First up, Kevin Lankinen will make his season debut in goal. The 26-year-old netminder is coming off a solid rookie season highlighted by a 17-14-5 record, .909 save percentage, and 3.01 goals-against average. Lankinen became the team's go-to option in net during the pandemic-shortened 2021 season and beat out Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia for the backup role during training camp ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
The Blackhawks turning to their backup goalie in the first contest of a back-to-back slate on the East Coast makes sense on multiple levels. On Saturday night, Chicago visits the Pittsburgh Penguins, the longtime former team of opening-night starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. While Colliton has not announced personnel plans beyond tonight's game, it's reasonable to expect Fleury will get the net in the city he called home for 13 years.
Gustafsson is Back, Gaudette Gets a Crack
Elsewhere throughout the lineup, the Blackhawks will swap out one forward and one defenseman.
On the back end, Erik Gustafsson will replace Ian Mitchell. Gustafsson was a healthy scratch for the season opener in Colorado due to a hold-up on his immigration status. Mitchell recorded an assist on a first-period power-play goal but played just 8:23 against an explosive Avalanche lineup.
Up front, Adam Gaudette draws in for Ryan Carpenter. Gaudette enjoyed a strong training camp and preseason to earn a spot on the opening-night roster. Carpenter logged a -1 rating in 10:23 of ice time against the Avalanche on Wednesday. He also committed a bad turnover through the middle of the ice that led to Colorado's third goal of the game, which may be part of the reason for him being a healthy scratch vs. the Devils.
Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for the Blackhawks:
First Line: Alex DeBrincat-Tyler Johnson-Patrick Kane
Second Line: Dominik Kubalik-Jonathan Toews-Philipp Kurashev
Third Line: Henrik Borgstrom-Kirby Dach-Brandon Hagel
Fourth Line: Jujhar Khaira-MacKenzie Entwistle-Adam Gaudette
First Pair: Jake McCabe-Connor Murphy
Second Pair: Calvin de Haan-Seth Jones
Third Pair: Riley Stillman-Erik Gustafsson
Goalies: Kevin Lankinen — Marc-Andre Fleury (backup)