Kristi Loucks The Hockey Writers
Teuvo Teravainen is Finnish Goaled
Last Season, when Teuvo Teravainen first asserted himself in the Stanley Cup Finals Marian Hossa dubbed him as ‘Finnish Cold,’ but the Brandon Saad trade this summer facilitated a transition to fill a spot on the lottery line and as of late he has been more like ‘Finnish goaled.’ Nearly every forward in the lineup has had their shot at the lottery line over the course of the first 33 games, but Teravainen and summer acquisition Marko Dano were always considered the front runners. In fact, keeping Teravainen in the bottom six seemed downright wasteful.
The lottery line started off more like a laundry line, hanging anyone with the ability to keep up on that line with Jonathan Toews and Hossa, but Teravainen has finally started to look like the answer to the top line’s chemistry woes.
Mark Lazerus: Lottery spot on top line has been more of a curse than a blessing https://t.co/voK7F8S8pI #Blackhawks
— Blackhawks Digest (@HawksDigest) October 21, 2015
As everyone has already witnessed this season, Artemi Panarin has made the transition from KHL to NHL with the Blackhawks in a nearly flawless manner. For Teravainen, the move was not quite as smooth, but it has been no less spectacular to watch. Turbo as coach Joel Quenneville has taken to calling the young Finn is a skilled puck mover and has a pure sniper like shot, but it wasn’t always his first instinct to shoot the puck when he arrived in Chicago.
Like many young players when he first arrived, his confidence needed some work, and he needed to learn to trust in his own contributions to the team. That was never more true than when he first cracked the lottery line. Teuvo was a bit starstruck by the opportunity, and it was short-lived because he simply spent too much time looking for Toews and Hossa when he should have been looking for his own shots.
Over the course of the last few weeks, Teuvo has gotten another chance as Coach Q’s line blender spit him back out on the top line with Toews and Hossa seeking the missing piece that would ultimately help the struggling pair to unlock their offensive game. This time, Teuvo was not going to allow the opportunity to slip from his grasp. He has fired at will and shown the Blackhawks, and their fans that he is ready to take his place beside the two greats not as a young up and coming star, but as the stud that Stan Bowman knew he would be since the day he started scouting him.
Teuvo Teravainen is finding a home on the top line. #Blackhawks Lear's Look: https://t.co/OOrbWIlCiH
— Eric Lear (@BHTVeric) December 18, 2015
Everyone Wins the Lottery
For most of the season, the offense has been excessively lopsided with the Blackhawks second line of Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin doing most of the scoring. The Blackhawks knew if they had any hopes of finding a way over the wild card hump and into the playoffs with the intent of keeping the Cup in Chicago, they were going to need the Toews line to get going.
”Usually we’ve been watching (Kane’s line) scoring from the bench,” Teravainen said. ”They’re scoring all the time. It’s pretty fun to watch, but it’s good to go there ourself too.” (Yahoo Sports)
They had tried everyone from skill players like Panarin, who ultimately was returned to the second line because the chemistry there was simply too big to deny. The gritty role players in Ryan Garbutt and Andrew Shaw, who both saw extended looks, but at the end of the day, their scrappy play was far more important to the shutdown lines they were previously anchoring. Even Bryan Bickell had a shot, but he simply wasn’t playing with enough confidence to help fire up any kind of chemistry for the top line trio.
Marko Dano also got a solid look, but it would appear that he was in need of a little more seasoning to grasp the system, and that is better done in Rockford where ice time is abundant, and spotlights are smaller. Though he will likely be back, and who knows what Q’s line blender will have in store when that day comes along.
One thing is certain, if this line can bottle the chemistry they’ve had in this current go around the Blackhawks will feel like they have won the lottery.
As was mentioned before, Teravainen wasn’t an instant fit, at first, he simply looked like a passenger on the Toews and Hossa train, safely keeping his hands and arms inside the ride at all times. Then the dreaded blender bounced the young phenom down to the bottom six, and his production dropped off even further. He was struggling to find offense on lines that were designed to have more of a shutdown role, and it was beginning to look like Teuvo could be subjected to the dreaded healthy scratch as he was last season.
However, Quenneville isn’t always that predictable when it comes to the methods he employs to send a message. Fortunately, for Teuvo, Q decided to throw him back into the fire and let him work it out; And that is exactly what Teravainen did. He took his game from ice cold to Finnish Goaled.
In fact, the top line trio was responsible for the team’s first three goals on Thursday Night against the Edmonton Oilers with Teuvo accounting for two goals and an assist, Toews a goal and two assists and Hossa 3 assists. If this group can keep that up, the famous Q line blender might just be on the shelf for a while as most of the lines have seemingly found some balance.
When One Streak Ends, Another Begins
Patrick Kane’s streak ended on Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, but there could be any number of new streaks on the horizon.
Perhaps they won’t last as long, or be as much of a spectacle, but in the end, they might yield the results the Blackhawks are looking for. Having the top two lines clicking at the same time could give the Blackhawks back that killer instinct that has been a bit more elusive than normal to start the season. Sure they have been quite good, but they have had a few games where they’d like to have a do-over as well.
The Kane line is likely to continue their hot streak, and at the end of the season it is quite certain that they will have put up some pretty flashy numbers; But, those flashy numbers don’t always equate to Stanley Cup titles, just ask the Triplet Line from the Tampa Bay Lightning. That balance that the Blackhawks have had in years past has been missing, and Teravainen just might be the answer to tipping the scales back into the Blackhawks favor.
He possesses a sniper’s precision and an above average hockey IQ, both of which make him an offensive threat every time he steps on the ice. What he sometimes lacks is confidence, but a couple more games like he had Thursday night will go a long way to helping the young Finn in that department.
Other Blackhawks News
None of the streaks or line chemistry matter without solid goaltending and Corey Crawford has been simply spectacular. He recorded his fifth Shutout of the season (a league high) while under heavy fire by the young, offense-minded Edmonton Oilers. They threw everything they had at the Crow, and he cast it off like he had a force field around his net, stopping all 33 shots that he faced.
Crawford’s play of late has been just as responsible for the team’s success as Kane’s scoring streak, but it has been overshadowed at times. For Crawford, that is nothing new, but lately, he has been making it harder and harder to overlook his outstanding work in net.
Rob Scuderi played in his second game on Thrusday, and while he hasn’t really made a lot of waves (good or bad), he did wisely help shove a loose puck under Crawford as Edmonton was hacking and whacking in the hopes of a dirty goal. The jury is still out here, but the cap savings alone makes this a solid move by Bowman, even if Scuderi isn’t the answer on the blue line.
Thursday night also had a scary fall that sent Marcus Kruger to the locker room with what appeared to be a hand or wrist injury. The team is expected to have some news on his prognosis sometime Friday. If Kruger is expected to miss extensive time, this is a bit of a blow to the team as they would be missing one of their top penalty killers at a time when their penalty kill is starting to find success. Hopefully, it is a short-term loss if it is anything. If not, expect some changes on the bottom six and perhaps a call up from the Rockford IceHogs.
Coach Joel Quenneville on Marcus Kruger: "We'll know more tomorrow." Upper body injury.
— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) December 18, 2015
Sports League ManagementStart using it today