The Chicago Blackhawks will be without forward Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Adam Boqvist for at least two weeks, head coach Jeremy Colliton announced following Tuesday’s morning skate. Both DeBrincat and Boqvist were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Monday, meaning that neither player can practice, travel, or participate in games until they are cleared. DeBrincat ranks second on the Blackhawks with six points (two goals, four assists) through six games, while Boqvist is tied for eighth with three points (all assists).
Jeremy Colliton said Adam Boqvist and Alex DeBrincat, both of whom were placed on COVID-19 protocol list, will miss at least two weeks and then "go from there." #Blackhawks
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) January 26, 2021
While this news does not necessarily mean that DeBrincat and/or Boqvist tested positive for COVID-19, a two-week absence certainly suggests that it’s possible. Their absence could also be due to high-risk close contacts or inconclusive test results. Boqvist currently lives in DeBrincat’s basement, which explains why both players were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list together.
“We’re doing the best we can,” Colliton said. “I think everyone is, but this is the world we’re living in right now. We’re not in a bubble, so it’s hard. It would’ve been naive to think that it wouldn’t touch us at some point, but we have to make the best of it.”
Matthew Highmore, Lucas Carlsson Slot Into The Lineup
Colliton confirmed that forward Matthew Highmore and defenseman Lucas Carlsson are replacing DeBrincat and Boqvist in the lineup on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators.
Highmore has been a healthy scratch the last three games in favor of Brandon Hagel, who has looked sharp in a fourth-line role so far. Although, even with Hagel performing well, Highmore is someone who should consistently be in the lineup during this rebuilding process. The 24-year-old is coming off an impressive 2020 postseason for the Blackhawks in which he tallied four points (three goals, one assist) in nine games.
Carlsson is set to make his season debut against the Predators, getting the nod over fellow taxi squad members Nicolas Beaudin and Wyatt Kalynuk. Carlsson played in six regular-season games for the Blackhawks last season, recording one assist, three shots on goal, and a plus-three plus-minus rating. The Blackhawks fourth-round pick (No. 110 overall) in 2016 also made his postseason debut in Game 2 of their first-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights.
With the right-handed Boqvist out of the lineup, it sounded like Colliton chose Carlsson over Beaudin and Kalynuk due to his ability to play on the right side.
“We know he can play the right and he has played there a lot,” Colliton said. “He had, I think, a good showing last year in the games he had. He was solid in camp just other guys were playing ahead of him, so now he’s getting an opportunity.”
Malcolm Subban Starting in Net
With the Blackhawks and Predators playing two games in as many nights, Malcolm Subban gets his second start of the 2021 season on Tuesday, while Kevin Lankinen will likely be back in net for Wednesday’s contest.
Subban has not played since the season opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he stopped just 28 of the 33 shots that he faced in the Blackhawks’ 5-1 loss. In four career starts against the Predators, Subban has a 3-1 record with a 2.46 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
Chicago and Nashville kick-off at 7:00 p.m. (CT) on NBCSCH.