Trade benefits Teuvo Teravainen, Blackhawks' third and fourth lines


Trade benefits Teuvo Teravainen, Blackhawks' third and fourth lines

You don’t have to tell Teuvo Teravainen the importance of having good third and fourth lines in the postseason. He lived it last spring.

“Last year in the playoffs, third line I played with [Antoine Vermette] and [Patrick Sharp], we were playing really good. We could score and play good defense and our fourth line played really good defense, too,” Teravainen said. “We need four lines to play good hockey.”

To that end the Blackhawks welcome Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise to the mix. Whether it’s been the past few regular seasons or the playoff runs, the Blackhawks have long relied on their third and fourth lines for secondary scoring and for taking pressure off the top two lines offensively and defensively. That’s been missing most of this season, so the Blackhawks will readjust with their two latest acquisitions.

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“They’re both decent-sized wingers. [Weise] gives you some energy, gives you up-and-down, scores goals, goes to the net and is a good fore-checker. Fleisch gives you experience in playing a lot of different situations as well,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think you look at the lines and potential lines we can have down the road, we’re looking forward to getting them together to see how that works.”

Weise isn’t here yet – Weise has some visa issues to iron out, but general manager Stan Bowman expects him to be here within the week. So the full effect on the lines won’t be felt immediately. For now Fleischmann, who will play Sunday against the Washington Capitals, is on the third line with Andrew Desjardins and Teravainen.

Speaking of Teravainen, let’s get back to how these moves affect him. They were done to give Teravainen, who has been up and down the lineup, a more fixed role with more consistent line mates.

“I think sometimes people overlook the fact that more than anybody on our group of forwards, he’s bounced around and had to be the most versatile guy. That’s not easy to do for a young guy who’s trying to get established in the league. He’s a very important player for us and will continue to be,” Bowman said. “But I think in fairness to him, if we can give him more stability it might enhance his profile a bit.”

[MORE: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wanted veteran presence for stretch run]

That’s fine with Teravainen, because it worked well last spring. He, Vermette and Sharp were strong, with the line coming up with big points at critical times. They were also solid defensively. The same goes for that postseason fourth line of Desjardins, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw. Once Kruger returns from his wrist injury, Quenneville could put those three together again.

The Blackhawks have a chance to get that great four-line rotation that has worked for them the last few regular and postseasons. It should also help Teravainen find some line stability. He was a little disappointed to see teammate Phillip Danault go in the deal that brought Weise and Fleischmann here – “he was one of my best buddies here,” Teravainen said. But he understands the business and that the Blackhawks are doing what’s necessary to win another Cup.

“It’s good to have some new guys,” he said. “I’m excited to get our team going and looking forward to the playoffs. I think these guys will help us.”

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch


Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.