Youngsters carry the load

United CenterDeathDuncan KeithChicago BlackhawksNashville PredatorsJon Klemm

It's safe to say Friday night wasn't how the Blackhawks envisioned the dawning of their highly anticipated youth movement.

The Nashville Predators came into the United Center and pasted a 5-0 rout on the Hawks before an announced crowd of 8,211 at the United Center that booed two minutes into the game and sent the Hawks to the dressing room at the end of the night with more jeers.

But when a team has 53 players in training camp and is determined to see every one of them in a game situation, the chance of a game like Friday's is there.

"You can take a lot of good things [out of Friday]," Hawks coach Brian Sutter said.

The point of these exhibitions and, in reality, the regular season is to see whether the Hawks have enough talented prospects to be a force in a couple of seasons. If there was anything to take out of Friday night, it's the fine start from defensemen Anton Babchuk and Duncan Keith and the play of winger Pavel Vorobiev.

Keith, still unsigned and likely ticketed to return to juniors for another season, played 22 minutes 57 seconds, mostly paired with veteran Jon Klemm. Babchuk also had a solid if unspectacular debut in North America. The 19-year-old played 19:30 and had two shots on goal. He also saw time on the power play and penalty kill.

Like last season, special teams killed the Hawks. Nashville scored three power-play goals, and the Hawks were 0-for-6 on the power play. That's a disturbing beginning for a power play that was among the worst in the league last year.

Vorobiev had an open net in the first three minutes of the game but sent his shot off the goalpost, and Matt Ellison had a breakaway shot that hit the post a minute later.

The teams rematch Saturday night in Nashville.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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