There are certain phrases that have become part of the Blackhawks’ vernacular. Coach Joel Quenneville has uttered one several times in the short time he’s been back in Chicago.
“We like tough decisions,” Quenneville said on Tuesday night.
If that’s the case, the Blackhawks have got to be loving their current situation.
Be it Alexandre Fortin, Gustav Forsling or Vinnie Hinostroza, among others, the Blackhawks are seeing some impressive performances from their prospects. That’s good, considering the vacancies, especially on the forward lines, the Blackhawks need to fill. The good impressions continued on Tuesday night, when those three, as well as Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman had great outings in the team’s 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
“We could talk about all of our young guys tonight,” Quenneville said following the game, “and it was positive in every facet.”
Hinostroza, who was moved back to the wing — he said he felt better there than at center — got his first goal of the preseason. His speed has been noticeable throughout. Schmaltz, back at center after playing some wing, tipped in his first goal. Hartman provided the net-front presence. Fortin lined up with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov and didn’t get rattled. Forsling was strong again and making some slick passes.
Yes, the situation isn’t so bad, really.
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“I would say it’s definitely deeper,” Quenneville said of this group of young players. “Definitely the type of ingredients that we’re looking for for our team, the addition of speed and depth and skill. To me, that’s the way the game is progressing, so I think it can be healthy and not just [for] these guys coming into our lineup. They’re going to be in some really important spots for us. So that could be a good sign.”
As previously written, some of the Blackhawks’ roster decisions also come down to contracts and playing time as much as preseason performances. There’s no doubt Fortin and Forsling have done some tremendous work this fall. They’ve turned heads, and they’ve turned the right heads. Do the Blackhawks see enough in Fortin to keep him here and burn the first season of his entry-level contract? Is there a place for Forsling among a defensive group that’s a lot deeper this season than it was the last? And if Forsling stays, you would think the Blackhawks would want to give him enough playing time to justify his staying here. As Quenneville always says about prospects, the team wants to keep them playing.
It sounds like some of these young hopefuls will get one more look on Saturday in the Blackhawks’ preseason finale against St. Louis. Decisions, decisions. The Blackhawks love when they have to make the tough ones. They’ve got to be enjoying their situation immensely right now.
“Nothing got sorted out [Tuesday]. [They] made it real difficult on us. It’s real positive organizationally,” Quenneville said. “These young guys, we need some of them. How many we need will be determined going forward, because they all enhanced their chances.”