MANHATTAN BEACH — Brandon Pirri got the message when he returned to Rockford in December. Some parts of his game were very good while others needed work.
Pirri listened. And nearly two months later, he’s playing that more complete game the Chicago Blackhawks wanted to see.
The 22-year-old Pirri came back to Chicago in time for the Blackhawks’ ice show trip, and he’s looked good in his first three games back. His offense was never a question; his defense was. But it’s evident that Pirri heeded the Blackhawks’ advice.
“I’ve liked his progress. In the games he’s been here, he’s been effective,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Offensively, he’s got a lot of nice attributes that compliment the guys he’s playing with. Defensively, we have to make sure they’re aware without the puck. (Position-wise), he’s gotten stronger with his awareness in the puck areas. He’s been good.”
Pirri, who’s been playing with Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane, said he needed to find more balance and steadiness in his game.
“It’s got to be consistency. You can’t take nights off,” Pirri said. “In my earlier stint, I was around the puck all the time in some games, and there were other nights when I wasn’t. I have to try to bring that consistency every game. The first (few) games have been good. It’s different surroundings, but you try to be mentally prepared for everything.”
Brandon Saad said it looks like Pirri’s building off his stint here in the fall/early winter.
“He was pretty good the first time up here. We were looking for him to do the same thing, and he’s done pretty well so far,” Saad said. “The more he plays, the more he’ll feel comfortable. We’re all looking forward to that.”
Pirri’s aware of what the Blackhawks want from him. Quenneville said he started showing it back in late November/early December. He’s adding to that repertoire now.
“This is a good team no matter what. I’m just trying to compliment players,” Pirri said. “I’m happy to be here. I just want to do everything to contribute. There’s a little familiarity there and I’m just trying to help out in any way I can. I’ve had a taste here and there. Hopefully I can stick around.”