Teuvo Teravainen had a smile on his face as he talked about Team Finland’s triumph at World Juniors, the same tournament in which he helped his countrymen win gold in 2014.
“Yeah, it was a pretty fun time,” Teravainen said of watching the gold-medal came on this side of the pond. “It’s a good time to be a Finn, for sure.”
It’s a good time to be Teravainen, too. Last spring the forward was a key part of a dynamic third line that helped the Blackhawks win their third Stanley Cup in six seasons. And since late December, he’s once again been part of a noticeable third line with Andrew Desjardins and Phillip Danault.
“I think we’re doing a good job, playing pretty good [defense] and we can create some offense, too,” Teravainen said prior to the Blackhawks’ 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. “We can check hard and get loose pucks from good forechecking, just bring some energy, you know?”
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The biggest issue with Teravainen’s game earlier this season was his hesitancy to shoot. That wasn’t there during the playoffs, when he, Patrick Sharp and Antoine Vermette made a great combination down the stretch. It was there when he was on the top line. Now back on the third – and back at right wing, where he had success last season – Teravainen is looking like himself again.
“We all know Teuvo’s the magical hands on our line, you know?” Danault said. “He brings offense and is good defensively, too. He’s just bringing more offense to our line.”
Teravainen has 10 shots on goal in his past three games, which includes an empty-net goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. Even if he doesn’t score, his shot usually makes him a threat to do so or creates a chance for someone else. Coach Joel Quenneville said, much like with Artemi Panarin, Teravainen is at his best when shooting is foremost in their minds.
“When these guys think of shooting first it opens things up. They’re more dangerous, they have that ability and their selection is high end,” he said. “They’re both shooting the puck well, so think like that, first and foremost. Think of a shot. It’s tough making plays into the slot, tough making plays off the rush without odd-man situations. So when you shoot you can get a lot of action off it. The more he uses it, the better it is.”
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Naturally, things change on a game-by-game basis, but the opportunities seem to have been there more lately.
“Yeah, I think just some games I get more situations, I get more pucks and I get them in different positions,” Teravainen said. “You just never know how the game’s going to go. Sometimes you get those shots and sometimes you don’t. I don’t think about how many shots I get but, of course, I try to shoot when I have the chance.”
Teravainen has once again found a good place on a line, and at a wing, that suits him. It is, indeed, a good time to be this Finn.
“I’m feeling better,” he said. “I think I can still improve my game and just try to be myself out there. But yeah, I can feel I’m getting better, more confident as well."