BOSTON — Jason Dickinson felt completely fine last week as the Blackhawks flew to California, played the Kings and took a bus to Anaheim.
Then he woke up in the middle of the night before the Ducks game and felt awful. He ultimately missed that game, as well as the matchup against the Hurricanes this Monday, due to an illness. He lost seven or eight pounds in the process.
“I was throwing up one day, and then I didn’t eat for three days, so [the weight] goes quick,” Dickinson said.
Even once he returned to action Wednesday against the Blues, he was operating well below 100%. He logged 14:25 of ice time, his smallest workload since Oct. 23, with Richardson subbing Jujhar Khaira into his spot in some special-teams situations so as not to overwork him.
“I was feeling really good in the morning, and then once the game came around, I realized how quickly I lost my legs, my step, my lungs,” Dickinson said. “I had to find it again in the middle of the game.
“You sit there frustrated like, ‘Why am I so tired?’ Because it had been a couple days since I’d been feeling poorly, so I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll be fine. Nothing should be lingering.’ But it really kicked my butt.”
Dickinson finally felt like his usual self again Saturday morning before facing the Bruins, having benefited from several more days of skating, working out and eating full meals. The Hawks have reunited their previous third line of Dickinson, Sam Lafferty and MacKenzie Entwistle.
Ian Mitchell needed only three AHL games — and some well-timed (for his sake) struggles from the Hawks’ third defensive pairing — to earn a much-needed NHL opportunity.
Mitchell was called up Friday and inserted into the Hawks’ lineup Saturday after Alec Regula was sent down to Rockford and Caleb Jones healthy-scratched following a disastrous minus-five performance Wednesday. It will mark the former top prospect’s first NHL appearance since Jan. 11.
“I’m hoping never to leave now,” he said.
His brief Rockford stint was highlighted by a two-goal, four-point eruption Wednesday against Grand Rapids. In total, he tallied five points in his three games after returning last week from his wrist injury.
“I didn’t really miss a beat,” he said. “[I was] just trying to defend hard and move the puck up. Then in that third game, it translated to some offense, which was exciting. I’m excited to try to bring that here [in the NHL].”
Considering the make-or-break nature of this season for Mitchell, who will turn 24 in January, this chance to demonstrate his growth since his last extended NHL run in 2021 could be crucial.
The point role on the power play is one area where the Hawks have particularly struggled for years, and Mitchell has the necessary skills to potentially carve out a niche there. He and Filip Roos will share the power-play quarterbacking duties Saturday.
Forward Tyler Johnson didn’t play Saturday but has a chance to return from his ankle injury Sunday against the Penguins, a night at the United Center headlined by Marian Hossa’s pregame jersey retirement ceremony. If Johnson doesn’t return Sunday, then Wednesday against the Stars seems very likely.
Goaltender Alex Stalock has now missed more than two weeks with his concussion and hasn’t yet returned to practice, so he’s significantly further away.
“[Alex] has had good days and bad days,” Richardson said. “I don’t think there’s a timeline because everyone’s a little different.”