Ryan Hartman was talking about his game in Dallas last weekend when his eyes got bigger.
That game was somewhat of a breakout one for him, one in which he was noticeable from the start with his energy, ability to agitate and physical game.
“That’s an element that got me here, got me to this level,” Hartman said. “It’s something, I don’t know what clicked. Sometimes hits don’t open up. sometimes you’re looking for it it doesn’t come. But that game, it seemed like there were a lot of opportunities to make hits, get under the other teams’ skin. Any time I can do that, it helps the team.”
He’s been helping with that energetic game plenty through the Blackhawks’ 10-game unbeaten streak. And now, Hartman may be getting a promotion out of it.
Hartman had jump from the start in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday night. Considering that, Hartman finished the night on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. With coach Joel Quenneville once again looking for consistency on that top line, perhaps Hartman starts there on Sunday night vs. the Montreal Canadiens.
“Hartsy can bring energy, can make plays, get to the net. He knows how to do his thing,” Quenneville said. “But playing with those two guys – we’ve tried some guys over the last little while here. We’ll see how it turns out; but certainly Hartsy, over the course of the game, based on how he was playing, I liked how he responded to the challenge of going up there.”
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Be it due to performances or injuries, the Blackhawks’ lines have changed a lot lately. Hartman has rolled with those changes, playing well no matter who’s on the line with him.
“Great player. He’s been getting better and better,” said Marcus Kruger, who was on a line with Hartman for several games. “He’s feeling more comfortable now than in the first games. been consistent too and playing the same way every night. He’s been a great addition to this team.”
Hartman knows the benefits of landing a good, clean hit. In his NHL debut he had a memorable one against the New Jersey Devils. When he gets that in his game early, it energizes him and the team. But at the same time, he knows he can’t force something that’s not there.
“Sometimes the opportunities don’t come; it may be a few games or a few shifts. But when they do, you want to be able to make that play,” Hartman said. “It’s a momentum shifter. Sometimes if things aren’t going right and there’s a hit like that, it gets everyone going, gets the team fired up. Any time you can make that happen, you should do it.”
Entering this season, Hartman was considered to be the Blackhawks’ next Andrew Shaw type. He has certainly shown elements of that. But Hartman is a good player in his own right. He’s carving his own niche, and he may be the next player to get a good look on that top line.