Brandon Pirri had some solid moments in this time with the Chicago Blackhawks. But for now, the team has decided to make some moves involving him and others.
Pirri was reassigned back to the Rockford IceHogs while Jeremy Morin and Joakim Nordstrom were recalled from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate on Tuesday morning. Also, defenseman Michael Kostka was sent to Rockford on a conditioning assignment.
The extra forward call-up is needed because the Blackhawks will be missing two regulars Thursday night in Minnesota. Michal Handzus, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars due to illness, and Andrew Shaw who took a big hit late in last night’s game, did not travel to Minnesota. Asked if Shaw was OK following Tuesday’s game, coach Joel Quenneville said, “I think so. (But) I haven’t gotten the damage report yet.”
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As for Pirri, there’s no doubt the center has a strong offensive game, which led to six goals and five assists with the Blackhawks. But the production diminished, as Pirri had no points in his past seven games. His playing time also dwindled; he logged just over seven minutes of ice time on Tuesday. Quenneville has repeatedly said he wants to see Pirri develop his defensive game. Pirri played several games as the Blackhawks’ third-line center recently
“We expect everyone to play offensively when it’s time, get the puck back as quickly as possible when we don’t have it,” Quenneville said on Monday. “We want (Pirri) to progress defensively. Offensively, he’s fine.”
So in come Morin and Nordstrom, both of whom have logged some games with the Blackhawks this season. Nordstrom made the team out of training camp and was a potential penalty-killing replacement for the traded Michael Frolik. That didn’t quite work out, so Nordstrom went to Rockford to work on his game. He has five goals and an assist in 15 games with Rockford. Morin has three assists in nine games with the Blackhawks and six goals and six assists in 13 games with the IceHogs.
Kostka has been “close” to coming off long-term injury reserve for a few days now, according to Quenneville. Kostka suffered a foot injury during the Blackhawks’ morning skate in Florida on Oct. 22. Under the terms of the conditioning assignment, Kostka is eligible to stay in Rockford for up to six days or three games.