Blackhawks to introduce teen dream Dach vs. Caps
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The Chicago Blackhawks likely will introduce a new face when they host the Washington Capitals on Sunday night.
That would be 18-year-old Kirby Dach, whom the Blackhawks selected No. 3 overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Chicago promoted Dach from a conditioning assignment in the AHL following their most recent contest.
Expectations are high for the young prospect, a physical two-way forward who spent the past three seasons in Canada's Western Hockey League. The Blackhawks' last draft pick taken at No. 3 overall was Jonathan Toews, who went on to win three Stanley Cup championships with the franchise in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
"As a kid, you always grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL, so there'll be nerves," Dach told reporters. "But there will also be a lot of excitement. I've just got to do my best to focus on my game and be ready to play whenever my name's called upon by the coaching staff."
The game features two hot teams that are both coming off back-to-back victories.
Chicago (2-2-1) is coming off wins over the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets. This will be the fifth game of a seven-game homestand for Chicago after it opened the season in Prague.
Meanwhile, Washington (5-2-2) will look to stay hot after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers by a combined margin of 9-5. T.J. Oshie scored twice against the Rangers in the last game, which gave him six goals on the season.
The Capitals' scoring leader is defenseman John Carlson, who has a whopping 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in his first nine games this season. Carlson also leads the team with 19 blocked shots and has taken on a more prominent role as an alternate captain.
"His leadership back there (has been important)," Capitals coach Todd Reirden recently told reporters. "He's a guy that does say things during the game. He does say things on the bench. He does say things in the locker room."
The Blackhawks will start either Corey Crawford (1-2-0, 3.40 goals-against average) or Robin Lehner (1-0-1, 2.47 GAA) in net. Crawford is 3-5-2 with a 3.61 GAA in 10 career games against the Capitals, and Lehner has a career mark of 2-3-1 with a 2.17 GAA against the club.
Washington will start either Braden Holtby (2-1-2, 3.83 GAA) or Ilya Samsonov (3-1-0, 1.84) between the pipes. Holtby is 8-3-0 with a 2.88 GAA in 12 games against the Blackhawks, and Samsonov has not faced the team.
A concussion during the preseason delayed Dach's arrival to the Blackhawks. He instead reported to Rockford, where he appeared in three games. Chicago can play him in up to nine games at the NHL level before determining whether to keep him on the roster or send him back to the WHL for more development.
"I enjoyed the experience (in Rockford)," Dach said. "I had a lot of fun. Got to see a couple buddies. It was good for me to get down there and get some pro games under my belt and just feel what the pace is going to be like. It'll be another step up here, but I feel good and I feel like I'm ready to go."
--Field Level Media
Updated October 19, 2019