Teravainen has solid postseason debut with Blackhawks


Teravainen has solid postseason debut with Blackhawks

NASHVILLE — Bryan Bickell has noticed the changes in Teuvo Teravainen’s confidence level, especially on the ice.

Gone is that kid who seemed hesitant or unconfident, characteristics that aren’t surprising for a then 19-year-old who was adjusting to so many different things, on and off the ice, at once.

“He’s more patient with the puck. Before, it didn’t seem like he wanted the puck but now it seems it’s finding him. He’s finding ways to get open,” Bickell said. “If I had the puck in situations I’d just try to dump it in but he has poise and patience with it and that’s what we need from him.”

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Teravainen’s handled his first postseason experience with poise, too, assisting on Niklas Hjalmarsson’s goal in Game 1 against the Nashville Predators. The 20-year-old Finn has been part of the Blackhawks’ fourth line for some time now, giving that group more of a scoring threat. His defense has been just as good, as he continues to mature into a strong NHL player.

Entering his first postseason, Teravainen said he wasn’t planning on changing a thing.

“It’s just playing smart. You can’t turn the puck over; you just have to know what you’re doing out there,” he said. “Maybe sometimes, don’t take too many risks and play smart defense. But when I get the chance, I’ll try to make some offense and play to my strengths.”

Coach Joel Quenneville was very happy with Teravainen’s postseason debut.

“His patience was out there against top lines a lot of the night, a lot of defensive zone starts, key face-offs. I just thought he had a real nice game,” Quenneville said. “He’ll get a little more comfortable with the puck moving forward. Everything happens so fast, it gets hectic out there. It gets more predictable with time and that only enhances his strength.”

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Teravainen was sent back to Rockford earlier this season because the Blackawks saw him as a top-nine forward, and at the time there was no spot for him on those first three lines. So now he’s on the fourth line. He’ll certainly move up in time, be it this postseason or next year. But this has worked so why not stick with it?

General manager Stan Bowman said it speaks highly of Teravainen’s abilities to take on this role.

“He’s only 20 years old now, but he has the ability as a young player to have the trust of the coaches in defensive situations,” Bowman said. “It’s unusual for a player of his talent to be trusted at a young age to play a role on more of a checking line. But he’s got the ability to make plays and bring offense from that role and he also gives you the play-making.”

Teravainen has handled every step of his NHL learning curve well. That includes the big stage that he’s on now.

“His progression has been exciting to see, it’s just the tip of the iceberg for him,” Bowman said. “We’re excited for him to get playoff exposure and he looks more confident with each game he plays.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?