Teuvo Teravainen sat at his locker after his NHL debut. He was certainly happy, certainly excited and just a little tired.
“No legs today, I don’t know why. Maybe (I was) nervous,” he said with a smile. “But it’s getting better.”
As far as first games go, Teravainen’s couldn’t have gone much better. The 19-year-old played just under 12 minutes, which included some power-play time, and won all seven of his faceoffs in the Blackhawks’ 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. No, Teravainen’s name wasn’t plastered all over the scoresheet. But for a guy who’s been here about a week and has had one full skate with all of his teammates in that time, it was a nice start.
“I liked him,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “His awareness around the rink on both sides of the puck and in the faceoff circle was very strong. He was very good.”
Duncan Keith was also impressed with Teravainen.
“I thought he was awesome,” he said. “There were a couple times there in the (defensive) zone where we made couple quick plays to one another and were able to get it out of the zone. He has so much patience and skill. He’s going to be an unbelievable player in this league. He’s going to fit right in with this team.”
Keith said he even saw shades of a Blackhawks teammate in Teravainen: Patrick Kane.
“He does (remind me of him) a lot. He’s so skilled, and for his first game I thought he made some very nice plays,” Keith said. “He’s very conscientious of defense, too.”
That’s one heck of a comparison, and it certainly needs to be taken in the context of which it was meant. There’s no doubt Teravainen has a lot of talent, and he could end up doing some great things. Having Kaner-like qualities is an excellent start, but Teravainen needs time to grow, adapt and hone those skills.
“If you have anything compared to Kane at all, that’s pretty special,” Kris Versteeg said. “He’s got that puck control that Kaner has, but obviously Kane’s on an elite level and (Teravainen’s) going to have to take his time to get there. As a young kid he does have that hockey sense and maybe the skill Kaner has but not to the full ability yet. But there’s probably only one player on the planet who does, and that’s Kaner.”
Teravainen’s first step on the ice tonight was met with rousing applause. If he keeps growing, he’ll be hearing a lot of it in his future.
“We knew what he could do, skill-wise; we saw him in camp. He definitely has skill and can see the ice,” Corey Crawford said. “He’s really young and no (NHL) experience, but he can definitely play the game.”