Coach Joel Quenneville made it clear what he was looking for from his young players: good, simple hockey and energy. They brought that and more.
Marcus Kruger had a critical goal at the end of the first period, and Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig also had noticeable evenings in the Blackhawks 5-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
Krugers goal with 29.5 seconds in the first helped alleviate an otherwise forgettable first period for the Blackhawks. It gave them momentum, and the Blackhawks carried it through the final two periods.
For Shaw, his first game back since Mondays recall from Rockford was stellar. He opened the Blackhawks scoring in the first period, tallying his sixth of the season, and brought energy to the checking line with Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell.
I thought he was excellent, Quenneville said. He was effective in a lot of ways. He had jump, he took the puck to the net and checked well off the rush defensively. He had a real purpose to his game and brought us a lot of energy.
Bollig made his NHL debut on Wednesday, coming up to help the Blackhawks fill the physical void. A big guy with a penchant for fighting, Bollig didnt disappoint, holding his own with the Maple Leafs Luke Schenn.
He did a great job, Quenneville said. He had the fight at the end of his shift, he had purpose and he had a nice chance in the second period. We wanted him to play a north-south game, and he delivered it tonight.
Theyve had, and will continue to have, their growing pains. But the young guys gave the Blackhawks a boost a few times on Wednesday night, be it with their goals, their energy or their fists.