Tyler Motte’s defensive game remains steady.
The Blackhawks rookie forward has been good in that area, be it before or after the lower-body injury that cost him five games in November. Where Motte has felt the brunt of his injury, however, is with points. After recording six to start the season, he has none since returning.
Motte has been a good find for the Blackhawks, but he would definitely like to get back to his pre-injury production. He had some good opportunities, especially early, in the Blackhawks’ 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday night but couldn’t capitalize.
Every player goes through a slump, and that could be what Motte is experiencing with his scoring. But there’s definitely frustration that his injury slowed momentum he was building.
“It’s always tough to go down at any point, especially when you’re playing well. I definitely think I can contribute more,” Motte said. “I want to be back to a position like I was contributing early on; but most important thing is we continue to get wins, continue to get points, whether that’s me playing at my best or not. But it’s my job to get back contributing the way I was before the injury.”
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Coach Joel Quenneville said Motte was better against the Stars on Sunday. But he would love to see more out of the forward.
“I think he can be better. Some nights he gets a little more responsibility, more quality ice time and his line’s been fine,” said Quenneville of Motte, who’s played with Dennis Rasmussen and Richard Panik. “We trust him killing penalties and put him in good situations as well. But the other side of the game, where he can contribute more offensively, he’s got some skills we’d like to see a little more.”
Motte has been fine on the defensive side. That, and the penalty kill, were a big part of his repertoire at the University of Michigan and helped make for a smoother transition to the Blackhawks.
“Coach [Red] Berenson and his staff really stress defense,” Motte said. “That stress on the defensive end, the details of the game, the special teams, learning at that age and the three years I was there drilled into my mind that that’s the right way to play. The systems might be a little bit different but the details, the understanding, those little things really do matter. Those have transitioned into my game here.”
Motte got off to a great start this season. He came back on the Blackhawks’ Circus Trip and most of his game returned with him. He’d like the offense to come back, too.
“It was good to hop right back. [It was a] long road trip, and good to get a taste of it, good to get my legs under me,” Motte said. “Now it’s time to contribute a little bit more.”