Ryan Hartman isn't a total stranger to center.
He played more of it in his Plymouth Whalers (OHL) days but also got some center shifts in with the Rockford IceHogs. That's where he'd also get some faceoffs, especially if another center had, or was coming off of, a wrist injury.
His return there Tuesday night wasn't so shabby, either, as he moved to the second-line center spot when the Blackhawks were looking for a boost. So it's no surprise that he'll be back there again on Thursday night when the Blackhawks play hosts to the Dallas Stars.
Hartman admits he was a little surprised when he was put in that spot in the Blackhawks' overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. But with this team you have to expect anything, and Hartman was happy to join Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane.
"You never know at a certain time of the game what's going to happen. But it went well," Hartman said. "Playing with those two guys is fun, and they're two special players. They make it easy on you, keeping the puck and making plays. It's exciting to play with those two guys."
Hartman did get some post-skate faceoff work in on Thursday. He said he'll do some video work as well.
"They put up video before games of tendencies of every center. I've just gotta watch that close before tonight's game so I know what some of their habits are and what centers I'll be lined up against," he said.
Hartman playing second-line center gives the Blackhawks another option in Artem Anisimov's injury absence. Coach Joel Quenneville said, depending on how things go, that Hartman could be considered to center the third or fourth line in the future.
"I liked him there, and the way he plays with those two guys, you can have a net presence and disruption around the net and a lot of action with those guys in that area. He has a quick stick and maybe there's some production there and it gives us some options of using him in the middle in other spots as well going forward," Quenneville said. "For a period there I thought he did a real nice job. We'll see how it works out. It looked all right today in practice. It's one more option, which we like."
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CSN has complete coverage of Thursday night's game between the Blackhawks and Stars, starting with Blackhawks Pregame Live at 7 p.m., followed by puck drop from the United Center at 7:30 p.m. You can catch all the action on CSN or streaming live here on CSNChicago.com or on the NBC Sports app.
John Hayden, Jonathan Toews, Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin, Ryan Hartman, Patrick Kane
Nick Schmaltz, Marcus Kruger, Marian Hossa
Dennis Rasmussen, Tanner Kero, Jordin Tootoo
Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell and Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries/illness: Artem Anisimov (left leg)
Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky
Remi Elie, Tyler Seguin, Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore, Radek Faksa, Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie, Adam Cracknell, Jiri Hudler
Esa Lindell and John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis and Greg Pateryn
Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak
Injuries/illness: Mattias Janmark (knee), Antoine Roussel (hand), Jason Spezza (back)