Blackhawks banking on improvement from rookies
It wasn’t so much that the Chicago Blackhawks came back from 3-0 down to beat the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, it was the manner in which they did it.
After a couple of the usual suspects, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane, combined to make it 3-1 in the third period, it was Vincent Hinostroza with his first NHL goal to make it 3-2, and then Hinostroza again, setting up Ryan Hartman to tie things up. Marian Hossa’s 11th of the season won it in overtime, assisted by Hinostroza, who entered the contest with zero points in 16 NHL games and left with a goal and two assists in 17.
Prior to Saturday, the ‘Hawks had mostly been living off their big guns. What they needed was exactly what they got against the Canucks -- some timely production from their rookies, who’ve been tasked with replacing the likes of Andrew Shaw, Andrew Ladd, and Teuvo Teravainen.
“Yeah, when you look at Vinnie getting his first and Hartsy on a great play,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “We know these guys can score. They play the right way, you can put them in situations all over the ice and against most players in a game. There’s some progression there. Whether producing or not, playing the right way will be the best way for them to get better.”
In order to remain legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, the Blackhawks will need their youngsters to step up. A two-line team just isn’t going to get it done in the playoffs, no matter how great the two lines. And according to GM Stan Bowman, barring injuries, it’s unlikely there will be enough cap space to add significant pieces at the trade deadline.
“We have six first-year players on our team,” Bowman told ESPN.com. “I’m looking more at those players being better players in the spring than they are now, just through playing 60-70 games in the league. I think we’re going to be improving from within more so than we are adding from outside. I like that part of it. I like the excitement of having Nick Schmaltz or Ryan Hartman or Tyler Motte or [Vincent] Hinostroza; those guys are doing pretty well right now. We haven’t given them big responsibility yet, but I think as we go along we’re looking at that sort of as our internal improvement, so to speak.’'
The Blackhawks (13-4-2) are in Edmonton to play the Oilers tonight.