Friday, January 13, 2012

Knocks mean opportunities for Hawks' rookies

Posted By on 01.13.12 at 03:30 PM

Suddenly, the rash of injuries that befell the Blackhawks looks as if it might be the best thing to happen to them. It's created abundant opportunities and ice time for rookies big Jimmy Hayes and scrappy Andrew Shaw (note the nicknames not yet capitalized), both of whom scored in Thursday's 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild, putting the Hawks back on top of their division.

They're not going to unseat Patrick Sharp or Daniel Carcillo upon their return, but those two are both out for weeks, giving the rookies a chance to establish themselves. Hayes has size and a big shot, while Shaw brings energy and has already proved he won't back down from a fight. This is just the sort of unanticipated jolt a Stanley Cup contender is apt to receive at midseason, and the Hawks could decide before the playoffs that they're an upgrade on underachieving veterans Bryan Bickell and Andrew Brunette. At this point, coach Joel Quenneville and GM Stan Bowman can only hope to be forced to face such tough decisions down the road.
All I know is I had a ticket to last week's game against Edmonton, when Hayes scored his first NHL goal, and I'm going to be keeping the stub. Who knows, it might be worth something someday.

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