CHICAGO –- More than anything, the just-completed Blackhawks training camp was about learning, according to coach Joel Quenneville. After a summer of roster turnover brought many new faces, there was a lot of studying to be done.
Quenneville often said over the past two weeks that there are surprises every year, and Nick Leddy making the opening-night roster along with fellow teenager Jeremy Morin would constitute one. The door opened for them with injuries to Jack Skille and Brian Campbell, but they may have made the team even without those players going down. Certainly, Morin was in line for it.
As for his team, Quenneville says it’s time for the real thing to begin.
“Some of the [preseason] games were better than others,” Quenneville said after his team’s 4-3 win over the Blues in their exhibition finale. “Our other two home games were better than [Sunday’s] game. We’re getting close to playing for keeps and it kind of appeared like that.”
Jonathan Toews concurred.
“Everyone is ready,” he said. “We just need to be in that setting. It will be a little bit easier to motivate ourselves to play better hockey and really get this thing going.”
Goaltender Marty Turco’s game isn’t quite there yet.
“I’m really going to utilize Tuesday and Wednesday to ramp this up and for me there is just some fine tuning,” Turco said. “Some good signs and room for improvement. It’s always about October 7. ”
Turco mishandled several pucks on Sunday and one turned into a goal for the Blues.
“[It’s] the old cliché of living and dying by it. It’s not something we prefer to do…they forechecked hard and that stuff happens,” Turco explained. “It’s more about picking yourself up and shying away from it or getting up and doing it again. That’s what you have to do.”
Tomas Kopecky saw time on both the power-play and penalty-killing units on Sunday night. Quenneville indicated that he’ll play on the power play once the season begins, but for now, he was only experimenting with Kopecky killing penalties.
The Hawks still have to make a roster cut or two. Ryan Potulny did not play in the final two preseason games -- games that Quenneville indicated would be dress rehearsals for the real thing. Quenneville intimated that if Jack Skille is ready to play Thursday, Potulny could be the odd man out.