Hawks look for Hayes to fit in seamlessly
March, 13, 2013
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- Line consistency has played a key role in the Chicago Blackhawks' success, and Joel Quenneville had that in mind when he inserted recently recalled forward Jimmy Hayes into the mix on Wednesday.
Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty ImagesThe 6-5, 210-pound Jimmy Hayes will bring a physical presence to the Hawks.
Instead of adjusting multiple lines as Quenneville did in the past two games to replace injured Patrick Sharp, Quenneville opted to place Hayes, who was recalled on Tuesday, in Sharp's spot on the second line alongside Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane while keeping the remaining lines intact.
"I think we looked at our lines getting them all back together, and having him fit in Sharp's spot gives him a chance to continue on the way he's played (in the AHL)," Quenneville said after practice. "Based on how well he's played there, he's earned an opportunity like that to play with a couple nice players."
The 6-5, 210-pound Hayes has flourished with the Rockford IceHogs since last appearing with the Blackhawks during their week-long preseason training camp. After scoring eight goals in his first 37 games, he returned to the IceHogs after his short stint with the Blackhawks and scored 14 goals in his next 21 games. He scored his first hat trick last week.
Hayes said the difference in his scoring numbers has been his aggressiveness.
"I was struggling," Hayes said. "I only had six goals right at the lockout there. I was kind of taking it on myself. I had scored goals at every level. I was talking to (IceHogs coach Ted Dent), and Teddy told me you have to shoot the puck and go to the net if you want to score. I started to do that way more with my game, and it's started to reward me a little bit."
Hayes plans to use the same approach playing alongside Kane.
"Stick to my game, be big, physical, use my speed," Hayes said. "He does all the stick work. He's a magician with it. I just have to read off him."
The chemistry of the second line may take some time, but Quenneville is confident in what he has in the other three lines. The first line of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa and the third line of Viktor Stalberg, Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell has played nearly every game together this season. The fourth line of Daniel Carcillo, Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik also has some experience together.
Quenneville was especially happy to watch the third line skating together again on Wednesday.
"Just watching today in practice, it's nice to see them back together," Quenneville said. "When we look at it, it's almost like which line is going to be our best line. They're capable of it any given night being as good as anybody whether zone time or finish and their speed off the attack as well.
"It seemed like we had a lot jump in practice today as well. It looked like the lines being a little more familiar, hopefully we can recapture that enthusiasm we had."
Bickell was also hopeful the consistency of the lines and the addition of Hayes would get the Blackhawks back on track after losing their past two games.
"We had a good thing going those 24 games we were on that streak," Bickell said. "With (Sharp) coming out of the lineup with his injury, it kind of broke up a couple lines that were clicking. Now that we called up Jimmy to fill up a spot to see what we can do, bring some more physicality to our game, which we need, I think it'll help."