Ryan Garbutt was looking to play like he did in the preseason.
When Garbutt first joined the Blackhawks, who acquired him and Trevor Daley when they sent Patrick Sharp to Dallas, he fell right into their game. Then the Blackhawks’ systems came into play, and Garbutt said he needed some time to adjust.
Judging from his recent games, he has.
Garbutt has played well, be it on the Blackhawks’ third line or the top one, which is where he’s been the last few games. His second assist with the Blackhawks set up line mate Jonathan Toews’ goal against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night. Two lengthy passes to Artemi Panarin led to two Panarin breakaway goal opportunities. Even on the top line Garbutt’s kept the edgy part of his game; he’s is leading the Blackhawks (and is 10th in the NHL) with 38 hits.
For Garbutt, it was just about getting used to the Blackhawks, before and after all systems were in place.
“Preseason was easy to adjust because you didn’t really play any systems,” he said. “Once we started getting down to the season it was definitely more structure and it took me a few games to get used to it.”
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
Coach Joel Quenneville said that’s when playing by instinct is important, regardless of a player is new or a veteran.
“The first thing you tell a guy when they're playing their first NHL game is, 'Trust your instincts out there and we'll correct you after.’ And you don't want to slow them down at all, especially guys with quickness and speed [and] that’s always been part of their game, fore-checking and on the fore-check in the offensive zone. They get that little hesitation, should I or shouldn't I go, and then it's too late,” Quenneville said. “But he's the kind of guy that, he likes to go and brings energy. He's a go-go guy and I really liked the way he's played the last few games. He's made some nice plays offensively with the puck, as well.”
Daley, who was also Garbutt’s teammate in Dallas, isn’t surprised the forward has fit in here.
“He played in the East Coast Hockey League four or five years ago but he’s come a long way. So I’m not surprised one bit what he’s capable of,” said Daley of Garbutt, who played for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators in 2010-11. “He’s a hard worker and not too hard to play with.”
Garbutt’s recorded some hits and assists, has played on the top line and has logged some minutes on the penalty kill. The one thing left to do? Score a goal. He’s come close a couple of times, be it 5-on-5 or short-handed. Considering how he’s progressed with the Blackhawks thus far, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before the goals come, too.
“First and foremost, I just want to take care of the team aspect and make sure we’re winning,” Garbutt said. “But it’ll be nice if I can chip in offensively to help with that.”
- Brent Seabrook did not practice on Tuesday. Quenneville said Seabrook is fine and will play tomorrow vs. the St. Louis Blues.
- Marian Hossa (lower body) did not practice on Tuesday and has been ruled out of Wednesday’s game.
- Duncan Keith (right knee) is close to taking the next step in his recovery. “He’s around here. He’s anxious to get going here. But we anticipate him being ready in that [4-6 week] time frame we set forth,” Quenneville said.
- Michal Rozsival was skating some late sprints with a mini-parachute on his back. Regarding Rozsival, Quenneville said, “the parachute’s extended, so that’s a good sign.” Quenneville already said Rozsival was doubtful for this week but is hopeful the defenseman is closer next week.
- TSN’s Darren Dreger reported earlier today that Mike Babcock is expected to be named coach of Team Canada on Thursday and Quenneville is expected to be named assistant coach. Quenneville wouldn’t say if he was asked to join the coaching staff but, if he was named assistant coach, “it would be the thrill of a lifetime.”