There are a few players on the Blackhawks roster still fighting for a spot in Chicago for the season’s beginning, and on Friday night the separation became clear in a few roster battles.
Brandon Pirri continued his impressive preseason with two goals. He split shifts between two lines during the game; at times he was between Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa, and at other times he was with Bryan Bickell and Rostislav Olesz.
On the power play, the line of Saad-Pirri-Hossa was impressive every time they were on the ice together. Both youngsters did a nice job of attacking the puck and creating pressure, and this line was the best as sustaining pressure during the game.
Pirri has outplayed Marcus Kruger in what might now turn into a battle for one of the center spots on the roster when the season begins. Kruger has been very vanilla this preseason, not doing much to get noticed; Pirri now has four goals.
The biggest roster battle of the month was between the pipes, and Friday night was Ray Emery’s chance to win a position on the team. Alexander Salak has played well in his opportunities, so the pressure was on Emery to perform well tonight.
Emery needs a decision on whether or not he gets a contract with the Blackhawks within the next 24 hours, and it appears he played just well enough to give the backup spot in Chicago to Salak.
While Viktor Stalberg and Ben Smith are question marks, Saad and Pirri played well enough to make the Hawks coaches and management think long and hard about sending either one anywhere before Sunday.