Zawaski’s Shorties: New Faces Make An Impact As Hawks Hold Off Caps

By Jay Zawaski–

(CBS)
 On Sunday afternoon, the Blackhawks and Washington Capitals met up in what many believe to be a preview of the Stanley Cup Final, and the game didn’t disappoint.

After getting outshot 17-6 in the first period, the Blackhawks turned on the jets in the second frame, outshooting the Capitals, 14-4. Chicago had a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, where Dennis Rasmussen gave the Hawks a 3-1 cushion. Late in the third, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a power-play goal, but Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford and Co.were able to fend off a late push by the Capitals to take the 3-2 victory.

Let’s get to the shorties.

Teuvo Terrorizin: Remember back about a week ago when Blackhawks forward Teuvo Teravainen was a bust and needed to be traded? Yeah, those were good times. Since then, coach Joel Quenneville has shifted Teravainen to his natural position of center, and it has paid dividends. Teravainen, who was named the No. 1 star of Sunday’s game, has looked more comfortable, assertive and in control since the position change. His assist on Jonathan Toews’ goal was an absolute beauty. He has four points in his last five games and will soon be adding 14-goal scorer Dale Weise to his wing.

We’re All Gonna’ Get Ladd! In his first game back in Chicago, Andrew Ladd added an assist on Toews’ goal as well. He brought what was expected — a simple north-and-south game with some physicality and net presence. All of those traits were evident Sunday.

We won’t know the full Ladd effect until we see him, Toews and Marian Hossa together. If everything goes to plan, that should happen in another week or so.

In the Fleisch: Tomas Fleischmann was a factor in his first game as a Blackhawk as well. Despite not appearing on the score sheet, the winger showed a knack for making the right and safe play with the puck, even when confronted with less-than-ideal circumstances.

He finished the game with a 62.5 percent Corsi rating.

TVRush: Trevor van Riemsdyk, for all of his defensive struggles lately (44 percent Corsi on Sunday), has recently shown some confidence in moving the puck. He’s been much more willing to jump into the mix offensively. On Sunday, he put a terrific pass on the tape to Patrick Kane, leading the Hawks’ first goal of the game.

If he can get his offensive and defensive games going simultaneously, van Riemsdyk could become a dependable fourth or fifth defenseman. Until then, though, he’s unpredictable night to night. Consistency is key, especially for Quenneville.

It Ain’t All Rozes: Michal Rozsival had a really rough game. He had several unforced turnovers and a half-hearted check in the third period that led to a scoring chance. He’s been a pleasant surprise for most of the season but really struggled against the speed and power of the Capitals.

These are the kinds of teams that Chicago will be facing in the playoffs: Dallas, St. Louis, Los Angeles. They’re all speed and power. Hopefully, Rozsival can find the playoff level he had last season before his injury.

Help On The Way? With Rozsival and van Riemsdyk struggling and Erik Gustafsson and Viktor Svedberg struggling to take that sixth spot, one has to wonder if general manager Stan Bowman is still hunting for a defenseman. I certainly wouldn’t bet against it, but the cap situation has the Hawks up against a wall a little bit.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks could afford to bring in a $1.2-million cap hit. That won’t land them Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis ($4.5 million cap hit) or Calgary’s Kris Russell ($2.6 million cap hit) without a roster move of some kind.

Can the Hawks find a taker for Bryan Bickell? Would they consider moving Andrew Shaw for some defensive help? We’ll find by out Monday at 2 p.m.

Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Spiegel and Goff Show on 670 The Score and the Blackhawks columnist for CBSChicago.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast with James Neveau of NBCChicago.com that you can listen and subscribe to here. Follow him on Twitter @JayZawaski670.

You can join Jay Zawaski and Chicago Blackhawk Brandon Mashinter at Mullen’s Bar and Grill in Lisle on Monday (Feb. 29) 7-8:30 p.m. for a Bud Light ‘On The Glass’ Hockey Night.

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