EDMONTON, Alberta — Joel Quenneville’s message to Phillip Danault before he made his NHL debut Saturday in Edmonton was simple.
“Just be comfortable, be confident, play your game,” he said. “Just go. We’ll correct you if you’re in the wrong spots. Play with confidence. You tell them, ‘Hey, you’ll be great.’”
Danault didn’t need much correcting in the Blackhawks’ 7-1 rout of the Oilers. He finished without a point, but delivered three hits, won a respectable 4-of-9 faceoffs and was noticeable all night in 11 minutes and 13 seconds of ice time on the Hawks’ fourth line with Bryan Bickell and Daniel Carcillo. He even saw a couple of power-play shifts once the game was out of hand.
Quenneville, who doesn’t throw around praise lightly, raved about Danault’s performance.
“Excellent,” he said. “I thought he did a good job. Had the puck a lot. He was around it. Tenacious. Did a real good job.”
It was the second straight game in which a Hawks player made his debut, following Adam Clendening’s smashing start in Calgary, in which he scored a power-play goal on his first shot. Danault, a native of Victoriaville, Quebec, had his parents and a cousin in town for the game on short notice.
“I think I’m nervous, but it’s a good stress,” Danault said after the morning skate. “I’ve just got to play my game, do the little details, and don’t do too much on the ice. Just do what I did in Rockford all season long.”
NOTES: Jeremy Morin was the odd-man out with Danault making his debut. … Andrew Shaw (upper-body injury) missed his second straight game. He’s unlikely play to Sunday in Vancouver, either. … Patrick Sharp continues to skate in Chicago, though it’s “doubtful” that he joins the team on the circus trip, according to Quenneville.