According to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, Murphy is a healthy scratch for this game. He’s appeared in three games for the Blackhawks, his new team, this season, averaging just over 16 minutes per night, which is below his career average of 18:44.
Murphy, a right-shooting blue liner, is in the second year of a six-year, $23.1 million contract, which he signed with Arizona. That deal carries an annual cap hit of $3.85 million, so the organization would certainly like him to become a key member of the Blackhawks defense going forward. So far, he has zero points in three games and is sporting a Corsi For rating of 32.7 per cent, per Hockey Reference.
Chicago’s lineup versus the Habs includes Cody Franson, who initially joined the club on a PTO, and right-shooting Czech defenseman Jan Rutta. This isn’t an ideal start for Murphy as a member of the Blackhawks, though it is only the fourth game of the season, too.
WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens have their own issues to work on, as head coach Claude Julien stressed getting to the net, according to Matt Cudzinowski of the team website.
“I don’t think the lines themselves are responsible for keeping us from scoring. It’s more about the way we’re playing,” insisted Julien. “We have to find a way to get to the inside. Right now, we’re on the outside. We need to take pucks to the net. Those are things we can change. We scored nine goals against Ottawa with those lines. I had time to study our games so far and that’s what I concluded. We can do better work taking the puck to the net.”
It should be a fun one between two storied NHL franchises.
This game is followed by what promises to be an emotional first-ever home game for the Vegas Golden Knights as they take on the Arizona Coyotes. For an in-depth preview of both games, check out this post.
Oilers, Golden Knights, Cali teams, and more in PHT’s Pacific preview
There was a period where parting ways with Dave Tippett, Mike Smith, and Shane Doan seemed like bad PR. That wave of moves likely washes that away, and gives new head coach Rick Tocchet something to work with.
Again, the band is staying together. Marc-Edouard Vlasic joins Burns and Martin Jones as aging (but impressive) players locked up long-term in San Jose. The hope is that regression does not begin anytime soon … but we’ll see.
They also might be marginally more pleasant this season. The additions of Sam Gagner, Michael Del Zotto, and Thomas Vanek aren’t likely to make them a good team, but it might make Vancouver easier on the eyes.
For ages, it felt like the Central Division was the reigning champion as the toughest division in the NHL.
The Metropolitan Division seemed to knock the Central off its perch, right down to the Pittsburgh Penguins beating the Nashville Predators in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Still, much of those stumbles seemed self-imposed, as the Dallas Stars struggled, the Winnipeg Jets disappointed, and the Colorado Avalanche were jaw-droppingly bad.
Let’s take a look at PHT’s material on the Central Division with the 2017-18 season set to begin.
Management at least doesn’t have to worry about their contracts. Near-invincible head coach Paul Maurice and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff both received extensions … even though this franchise hasn’t ever won a playoff game. This could be the year, and maybe in a big way.
Blackhawks squeeze Franson, DeBrincat, Forsling under salary cap ceiling
If you’re a team-building nerd, the Chicago Blackhawks’ ongoing rivalry with the NHL’s salary cap is almost as entertaining as their often-blistering on-ice product.
GM Stan Bowman & Co. finalizing their shimmying under the salary cap ceiling with the season set to begin, and these tweaks make things fairly tantalizing.
For one thing, the Blackhawks recalled dazzling young forward Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Gustav Forsling after demoting them entirely for cap reasons. The excitement surrounding DeBrincat, 19, continues to build; now fans get to see how the undersized forward can handle NHL competition. It’s easy to forget that, while his OHL numbers are stellar, they also came in the OHL.
Personally, it’s also heartening to see the occasional PTO turn into a real contract.
Now, Cody Franson seems too worthwhile to need to go through the song and dance of a tryout, but still. The Blackhawks can sorely use the veteran blueline presence that Franson, 30, may very well provide.
Franson may not be the 30-point man he once was with the Maple Leafs any longer, but it’s clear that he’s earned his status as a subtle analytics darling. This HERO chart makes you wonder if the Blackhawks have pulled off another steal.