Andrew Ebbett had a big opportunity with the Chicago Blackhawks when he was picked up off the waiver wire last month before Dave Bolland went down. Now, he finds himself between two of the more skilled players on the Hawks, Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg, so the opportunity is even greater.
Kane and Versteeg see things starting to jell.
"You look at what he did last season playing with [Teemu] Selanne and what he did in the playoffs, and I don't see why he's not up for the challenge," Versteeg said.
"He's really skilled and really quick," Kane said. "We're not the biggest line, obviously, but I think we can do some damage once we get in their end and off the rush. I'm getting used to him, and I'm sure he's getting used to me, but I think the first couple games were satisfactory."
"I think over the last couple games we've played together we've gotten some real good scoring chances, but I don't know why it's not going in," Versteeg said. "Maybe we need a little more desperation to get it in the back of the net. We're starting to find each other more, though."
Ebbett has just one point in 11 games as a Hawk but feels more will come playing with such skilled wingers.
"We've had some chances," Ebbett said. "I know I can feed those guys. They are so skilled. It will come."
Coach Joel Quenneville stopped short of declaring Ebbett his long-term answer at second line center. He will start Friday night's game at that position but it doesn't mean he is a lock past the first shift.
"I don't necessarily say I want to see production but just being consistent in filling that spot," Quenneville said. "It's a great opportunity there to play with those guys. ... We'll see how he handles it, but we have a lot of options in that position."
The Original Six matchup at the United Center on Friday night feels more like Original Six versus expansion. The Toronto Maple Leafs have three wins and just 11 points, and are having defensive problems. Still, the Hawks won't take this wounded animal lightly.
"It's too early [in the season] to think they are going to pack it in even if they get down early," Brian Campbell said after Friday's morning practice. "We're just 16 or 17 games into the season. There are a lot of points out there to be had, and Toronto wants them just like us."
Penalty kill:If the referees have quick whistles Friday night, it can only benefit the Hawks. This game features the team with the top-ranked penalty kill in the NHL against the team with the worst ranked. The Hawks are starting to feel better about their power play, which still ranks just 19th.
Look who's watching:Dustin Byfuglien and Kane claim they will not try to put on a show for the USA Olympic team coach and general manager. Ron Wilson coaches the Maple Leafs and will do the same in Vancouver for the Olympics while Toronto GM Brian Burke, will pick the team. "It's always exciting when you're playing in front of them," Byfuglien said, "but you just have to go out there and work hard and do what you can do. No more."
Moving up:Jonathan Toews is up to third in the NHL in faceoffs after winning a stunning 77 percent on Wednesday night against Colorado.