By Chris Emma—
CHICAGO (CBS) — With the slightest glimpse from the corner of his eye, Patrick Kane saw Teuvo Teravainen charging hard toward the net. Kane was headed behind the Kings’ goal, drawing the attention of netminder Jonathan Quick, when he heaved the puck back to Teravainen.
From there, Teravainen beat Quick, scoring what would prove to be the Blackhawks’ game-winning goal in a 4-2 comeback over the Kings on Monday night at the United Center. It was perhaps the beginning of something thrilling on the Blackhawks’ second line.
“It was a good finish by him and a big goal at the time,” Kane said of Teravainen.
The Blackhawks’ large “championship belt” sat in Teravainen’s locker stall after the win as the second-year player spoke of his confidence. It was pretty high after being Monday’s hero.
But for Teravainen, confidence has fluctuated with his role and performance. He delivered a big moment — with the help of the magnificence of Kane, of course — on the Blackhawks’ second line. But just last Thursday, he was a healthy scratch in Chicago’s loss to Winnipeg.
“Sometimes, it’s a little frustrating if I’m not playing good, and I know I’m not at that level where I want to be,” Teravainen said.
Teravainen, 21, has a youthful look in his appearance and his game. He delivered four goals and five assists in 34 regular-season games last season, then recorded four goals and six assists in 18 postseason games, including the game-tying goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He was an important piece in the Blackhawks earning their third championship in six years.
Patience is needed in Teravainen’s growth, but more so than that, the 2012 first-round pick needs opportunities. Perhaps Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville would be best to stick with him on that second line.
“Not changing anything right now,” Quenneville said.
Teravainen has tremendous talent — it’s why the Blackhawks thought highly of him in taking him 18th overall in the 2012 draft. They believe he’s going to develop into another electrifying forward for their elite core. He doesn’t look one bit out of place playing alongside Kane. In fact, he seems to be the ideal complement, with Artem Anisimov serving as the rock working as second-line center.
Needless to say, Teravainen hopes he stays on the second line.
“I like playing with (Kane),” Teravainen said. “There’s so much skill, of course. And Anisimov in the middle — there’s so many great things out there. I try to be myself, play my best and get the confidence going.”
For now, one of Teravainen’s biggest flaws is he’s not assertive with the puck on a consistent basis, at least not to the manner in which Quenneville desires. Being alongside the skill of Kane brings out the best in the young forward, as opportunities are often created, just like the go-ahead goal Monday.
Opportunities will come for Teravainen, whose potential is that of a star. But his growth will take time — and a little confidence, too.
“I have to be patient,” he said. “I want to be one of the best players in the league — that’s my goal.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.