The Chicago Blackhawks entered Sunday’s NHL games in fourth place in the Western Conference. Not a bad setting for a team that’s struggled to find its offense. So, as we finish watching the Chicago Bears hit the end zone today the way the Blackhawks would like to hit the back of the net, some random musings:
1. Break out the ketchup bottle: Bryan Bickell got off the scoring schneid. Perhaps it was just going back to where he was familiar. Bickell was fine when he moved to the top line in the postseason but he felt most comfortable, and was offensively effective, with his third-line pals. Considering how many moving pieces the Blackhawks have, and if it bolsters his production, why not keep Bickell on the third line for a while.
2.Quick show of hands for who had Niklas Hjalmarsson as the Blackhawks’ leading assist man with five? Now put your hands down, ya liars… .
3. Andrew Shaw is still looking for his first goal of the 2013-14 season but Quenneville is fine with the way Shaw is playing and the energy he’s bringing. “He’s been consistent in how he’s competing. The finish, the production part of it hasn’t been what he’s accustomed to. But I still like the way he’s playing. Eventually I think that (production) will turn for him.”
4. The Blackhawks have talked about finding those “greasy” goals to up their scoring production. Two of their three goals on Saturday night were within about a foot of the net. Message apparently received.
5. Blackhawks line of the week goes to Marian Hossa, when talking about Patrick Sharp’s habit of scoring a big goal in the first game after each of his daughters has been born: “Too bad he didn’t have triplets.”
6. Joakim Nordstrom was reassigned to Rockford earlier today. We’ll talk to Quenneville more about this at Monday’s practice, but we’re assuming it’s to get some seasoning in this North American pro hockey game. Nordstrom had just 11 games with the IceHogs last season before making the Blackhawks out of training camp, and he admitted getting used to the smaller ice surface here took some adjusting. Also, he wasn’t doing as well on the penalty kill as the Blackhawks had hoped. So Nordstrom will get some extra work.
7. A quick P.S. on the above Nordstrom note (since you asked): the Blackhawks don’t have to recall another player, since they have 22 on their current roster. They have the minimum number of forwards right now – kind of. Michael Kostka played some wing in the preseason, and Sheldon Brookbank’s been used as a forward before, too. We’ll see tomorrow if the Blackhawks recall another forward for the Florida trip, but it’s not an absolute necessity. We are talking someone going on the fourth line (most likely) here.
8.Brandon Pirri learned something fast last night: when the Blackhawks give you an opportunity, use it. He did so on the power play, and that will likely get him more time on it in future games. As for his potential in playing a bigger all-around role with the Blackhawks, read here what Quenneville thinks. Quick synopsis: we’ll see.
9. For those who sulk when Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are split up: relax. First, this just broadens the Blackhawks’ line depth. Second, you know they’ll be back together eventually. Like the circus trip.
10. Despite the team’s struggles to score goals and a hit-and-miss penalty kill, the Blackhawks have just one regulation loss in their first eight games. Think about that.