Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Teuvo Teravainen feeling more like himself at center

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Blackhawks: Teuvo Teravainen feeling more like himself at center

DALLAS – Teuvo Teravainen isn’t used to this.

The Blackhawks forward has played all over the lineup this season, from left wing to right wing, top line to third line. But for several weeks now he’s stayed put, centering the team’s third line.

That stability has been nice.

“Yeah, it makes things a little easier when you know you’re in the same spot every game,” Teravainen said. “You get in the same situations in games over and over, so that makes your game easier.”

Teravainen has looked better and has been a more consistent player since settling into that third-line center role. He scored his 11th goal of the season in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday night and has found chemistry with new linemate Tomas Fleischmann, who also scored against the Stars. It’s a role that fits Teravainen well, and it’s a role it appears he’ll have for some time.

“I think positionally he’s strong, defensively aware, offensively dangerous,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We play him in all situations which is good for us. I think he’s progressing fine.”

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Andrew Desjardins, who was Teravainen’s linemate for a few weeks — he was on the fourth line against the Stars — said Teravainen has a strong hockey sense.

“I think he’s a really intelligent player,” Desjardins said. “People don’t realize how good he is defensively. He’s a real intelligent player and I think you need that as a center. He gets down low, makes the right plays and obviously you get him in the offensive zone, he’s creative. He’s done an amazing job moving around like that. He’s adapted well.”

Indeed, Teravainen moved around plenty for most of this season. It showed the Blackhawks trusted him in all situations but the transitions weren’t always easy. As general manager Stan Bowman said around the trade deadline, it was great that Teravainen showed versatility but giving him a more concrete, set assignment was best for him.

Right now, it’s showing. Teravainen remains strong defensively and has added more offensively; he has points in five of his last six games (goal, four assists). Teravainen was overthinking some previous assignments. That’s not the case with this one.

“I feel pretty good. I think I feel pretty natural,” he said. “I don’t think too much so that’s a good thing. I just go out there and play.”

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Teravainen and Fleischmann, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens a few days before the trade deadline, have clicked well. Dale Weise, who the Blackhawks picked up along with Fleischmann, joined those two on the third line in Dallas. Time will tell if those three all work well together but there’s no doubt Teravainen and Fleischmann have already.

“He’s really fast and skilled, and thinks the game right way,” said Teravainen of Fleischmann, who had a goal and an assist against the Stars. “He’s a pretty smart guy, so it’s easy.”

The game overall is coming easier for Teravainen right now. He feels comfortable at center. Sure, there are a few things he needs to work on but for the most part, he may have found the role that suits him best.

“Just little things like face-offs and battles in our own zone. I’ve got to get strong and it takes some time,” Teravainen said. “But overall I think I just try to be in the middle, get open and be myself. I’ll be fine.”

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.