ST. PAUL, Minn. – Jeremy Morin and Joakim Nordstrom get another opportunity here and Corey Crawford will start when the Chicago Blackhawks face the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center tonight.
The Blackhawks will be without Michal Handzus (ill) and Andrew Shaw (upper body), who didn’t even make the trip with the team. Coach Joel Quenneville said the two could play tomorrow night against the Anaheim Ducks.
As for Brandon Pirri, Quenneville reiterated that the young center needs to work on honing his game, especially on the defensive side. Pirri went point-less in his last seven games and his playing time diminished as the circus trip continued.
“Consistency and defensive play,” Quenneville said. “His play leveled off (here), so let’s get him some confidence and get his game going again where he has the puck more and contributes more.”
Morin has been called up by the Blackhawks a few times this season. Regardless of the many trips, Morin said he will make it every time.
“Every time you get sent down you’re disappointed. But if you stop being called up, that’s when it’s an issue,” Morin said. “You just want to keep getting your opportunity. They keep giving me some opportunities here and I just have to make the most of them. It’s been like this the first few months, up and down, but I’m never mad about making the drive to Chicago.”
Nordstrom made the Blackhawks’ roster out of training camp and was a potential replacement for Michael Frolik on the penalty kill. It didn’t work out that well the first time around in Chicago, but Nordstrom said the Rockford time benefitted him.
“I had a good time down in Rockford and I felt like it’s given me something back to develop my game,” said Nordstrom, who added he worked on “everything” with the IceHogs. “Up here is where I want to be, of course, so once I got the call I got really excited.”
Nordstrom will center the Blackhawks’ third line with Morin and Sheldon Brookbank. Kris Versteeg centered the second line with Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane while the top and fourth lines remained intact.
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And as far as Nordstrom being a potential NHL penalty kill, that plan is still in place.
“That was one of the ideas: we can give him more PK time (in Rockford) so he can learn that art, and knowing he could add something to our team this year. We anticipated at the start of the year he could be that guy and hopefully at some point he can grab that,” Quenneville said. “He can play a little center for us as well. He can play all three (forward spots), but we’ll put him in the middle and see how he handles it.”