Blackhawks

Teuvo Teravainen's versatility helps Blackhawks

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Teuvo Teravainen's versatility helps Blackhawks

GLENDALE Ariz. – The Blackhawks have missed a player or two at various times this season.

Perhaps that player leaves a void on the penalty kill or the power play, or maybe it’s just his main position where the Blackhawks need to fill the need. Regardless, when another player has been absent, one particular Blackhawks forward has gotten great opportunities: Teuvo Teravainen.

Teravainen was getting the extra-responsibility call again on Tuesday night, filling the top-line center role for an absent Jonathan Toews in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. It’s a testament to Teravainen’s versatility and the Blackhawks’ trust in him, no matter the situation.

“Yeah, it’s good I can play a lot of different positions,” Teravainen said. “I’ve been playing with every guy, left wing, right wing. I have to be ready every game; you never know.”

[MORE HAWKS: Healthy Jonathan Toews ready to get back to it with Blackhawks]

That was the case heading into the Blackhawks' first game after the All-Star break. With Toews suspended for missing the All-Star weekend, Teravainen stepped onto the top line. Earlier this season, when Duncan Keith was injured, Teravainen expanded his penalty-killing role — he did that again when Artem Anisimov was ill last month.

Getting the added responsibilities is a boost to Teravainen’s confidence.

“It makes me feel more comfortable,” he said. “I try, whatever role it is, to play as best I can. Sometimes it’s more of a defensive role, sometimes offense. But I have to be responsible every time. It’s a good chance for me.”

Teravainen played a more limited role last year, but that was last year. He needed time to grow and develop his game over here. Obviously coach Joel Quenneville trusts him with it — Quenneville isn’t the type to put guys into situations he doesn’t think they can handle.

“I think we’re always comfortable because defensively he’s reliable. That predictability we like and the upside, offensively, is still in place,” Quenneville said. “There’s room for growth in that area but defensively I like how he positions himself in the right places.”

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Teravainen would like to have more offense. On Thursday, with Toews poised to return against the Arizona Coyotes, Teravainen will be back in his familiar right-wing spot on the third line (with Andrew Desjardins and Phillip Danault). Those three were generating some offense at the start of the year, and would like to get going again. No matter where Teravainen is, however, he’s bringing the right elements and trusting his instincts to do so.

“I think I don’t think too much, and if I do that’s not a good thing,” he said. “You have to play to your instincts and I think that’s my game. When I’m playing my best I’m really into the game and making good decisions on the ice.”

Updates

- Michal Rozsival (lower body) will likely play against the Coyotes. What that means for Viktor Svedberg, who played a good game in Rozsival’s place, is uncertain. Quennville said of Svedberg, “I thought he had an excellent game last night but we’ll see about tomorrow’s lineup.”

- Corey Crawford will start.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."