EDMONTON, Alberta —Andrew Desjardins isn’t some doe-eyed rookie. He’s been a healthy scratch before. He’s been in the doghouse before. He gets it.
But he doesn’t have to like it.
“Obviously, I want to be playing, I want to contribute,” Desjardins said as he prepared to sit out his third straight game. “I’m not excited about it. It’s not a fun situation to be in. But all I can do is work on my game every day to get better and help the team. And I can still be a positive guy around the rink. I can play that role.”
Desjardins was benched during last Thursday’s game against New Jersey after his turnover led directly to a Devils goal. He hasn’t seen the ice since, largely due to the fact that the Blackhawks have won the two games for which he’s been scratched, and Joel Quenneville rarely changes his lineup after wins. But he knows it’s not just one play that earned him Quenneville’s ire.
Through 16 games, Desjardins has no points, and is a minus-8. And while he’s still very valuable as a penalty-killer and shutdown defender, the Desjardins-Marcus Kruger-Andrew Shaw line that was so important during last season’s postseason run hasn’t been quite as effective this season.
“I don’t think it’s specifically one thing,” Desjardins said. “It’s probably a thing that’s happened from a few events, a few games. Poor play, or whatever else it is. There’s obviously more factors than just one goal against. … I knew I wasn’t playing my strongest hockey. I was maybe trying to do too much stuff with the puck sometimes, and making poor decisions.”
Quenneville isn’t necessarily looking for points from Desjardins.
“He needs to bring energy,” Quenneville said. “Last year, he came to our team and did a great job around the puck, bringing us some energy and consistency. I think that line as a group had gotten off to an ordinary start here. We need that line to be a big part of our team; they were a big part of our success last year. We’re looking to recapture that.”
Desjardins hasn’t needed any pep talks from teammates or coaches. At 29 years old, he knows the deal, and he knows there’s only one way out of the doghouse.
“It’s not my first time in this situation,” he said. “You’ve just got to try to not completely lose your confidence, and try to gain it back by any means, even if you’re not in the lineup. Even if that’s just battling every day in practice and scoring a lot of goals in practice and feeling good about yourself. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. You can’t feel sorry for yourself, you can’t get down, you’ve got to try to stay positive.”