Ben Smith shines again for Blackhawks

September, 20, 2013
9/20/13
12:18
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Ben Smith left the University of Notre Dame after four days of training camp disappointed in his play.

Smith understood he was being considered for one of just a few open roster spots, and he felt he hadn't done anything to impress Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

But Smith didn't dwell on that. He returned to Chicago and looked at the team's preseason games as another opportunity to show he's worthy of a spot.

Smith hasn't failed to capitalize on that second chance.

After scoring in the first preseason game Tuesday, Smith followed that up with a goal, an assist, a plus-2 rating, three takeaways and two blocked shots in the Blackhawks' 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.

Quenneville took notice.

"I thought Benny had his best game of the camp," Quenneville said. "Obviously, he scored a goal to get us back into the game -- huge short-handed goal. I thought the puck was more friendly with him tonight. I thought he had a real direct game and a real purpose to his game."

Smith was happy with how he played on Thursday, but he wasn't allowing himself to be too joyful now, just as he didn't allow himself to be too down after his poor showing at Notre Dame.

"It feels good," Smith said. "It's one game. You know one game isn't going to make this team. As I said Tuesday, it's a step forward."

Toews to play: Quenneville said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will play in his first preseason game of the season on Friday against the Washington Capitals. Toews has been held out of scrimmages and games since Sept. 13 because of a lower-body injury.

Not concerned: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Thursday he wasn't concerned about Marian Hossa's recent upper-body injury. Hossa is expected to miss the next four preseason games.

"I think injuries are part of the game," Bowman said. "Marian's been a very durable player over the years. Things come up now and then, but I'm not worried long term for that."

Power-play struggles: The Blackhawks' power play has gotten off to a rough start. The Blackhawks have failed to score on their first 12 power plays of the preseason. They went 0-for-6 against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday and 0-for-6 against the Penguins on Thursday.

"Our power play had two A-plus looks [on Thursday]," Quenneville said. "[Patrick Kane] had two great chances. But no production. Still can't be happy with it. We score 5-on-5 by just shooting the puck. Why can't we shoot the puck and score 5-on-4?"

Future Notre Dame camps: Bowman said the Blackhawks are open to returning to Notre Dame for future training camps.

"We're going to talk about that over the next few weeks," Bowman said, "but we've had universal feedback that's been positive. We're going to do a little debrief here. I think it went really well.

"Now it's just a matter of trying to figure out the schedule and when training camp starts and when their football is scheduled. There's a lot of variables that go into it, but if we can pull it off, it would be fun."

Teravainen leaving: Forward Teuvo Teravainen will return to Finland on Friday and spend the season with Helsinki's Jokerit team in the SM-liiga elite league. He could return to the Blackhawks as early as April.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26