Can Ryan Hartman replace Andrew Shaw in the Blackhawks’ lineup?

Can Ryan Hartman replace Andrew Shaw in the Blackhawks’ lineup?

Ryan Hartman has been molding himself to be an Andrew Shaw-type player for as long as he’s been in the Blackhawks organization.

So when Shaw was traded to the Montreal Canadiens at the end of June, attention naturally turned to Hartman. Can he be that guy? Can he provide that sandpaper and net-front presence on a continuous basis?

He hopes so.

“We play similar styles: feed off energy, make plays at the net, be one of the hard players to play against,” Hartman said. “Obviously with cap issues, stuff’s going to happen in the offseason. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen but it’s an opportunity now for me, especially, and some other guys to make a push, try to make the team this year.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks have several holes to fill on their forward lines and none may be bigger that Shaw’s role. For Hartman, who’s played eight games over the past two seasons with the Blackhawks, this is the chance to show he can be that guy, and be that guy on a full-time basis.

Hartman just finished his second professional season, recording 15 goals and 20 assists in 61 games with the Rockford IceHogs. Hartman said his second season was especially valuable – “you come into that second year knowing how to play a full season. You’re not necessarily a veteran but you know the ins and outs,” he said.

Speaking of veterans, though, Hartman and the rest of the IceHogs learned a lot from Bryan Bickell, who spent most of last season with the IceHogs after struggling again with the Blackhawks.

“Having Bickell come down, a guy with two or three Stanley Cups and the experience, he’s able to teach the young guys what it takes to be an NHL player,” Hartman said. “He came down with a great attitude and helped everyone.”

Bickell is also an example, albeit an extreme one, of what happens when you struggle with your game. There may be more jobs available this season but the Blackhawks won’t be shy to reassign a call-up who’s struggling. Hartman, who played three games with the Blackhawks last season, knows that from experience. It’s a tough to deal with but it’s also fuel for a young player.

[RELATED: Opportunity with Blackhawks fueling recently signed Tyler Motte]

“You can’t be a guy who comes in, has two or three games, and then takes a night off. You have to bring it every night. That’s what it takes,” Hartman said. “There isn’t a guy who takes a night off who won’t be called down right away. You have to take it period by period.”

With the Blackhawks going through more roster changes, young hopefuls could get their best opportunity this fall. Hartman is one of those guys, a possible option to replace a particular player playing a particular game. It’s some pressure, sure, but Hartman doesn’t look at it that way.

“It’s more motivation. It gets you in the gym earlier, gets you working a lot harder, gets you doing the extra things because you know there’s a spot,” Hartman said. “If you don’t do whatever you can, you’re going to be kicking yourself at the end. Do the work now and it should pay off in the end.”

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


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


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.