WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen never were supposed to make up for Patrick Kane’s absence, merely mitigate the damage. But they haven’t made a dent — at least, not on the scoresheet.
Through 11 games each, they’ve combined for no goals and two assists. And both of the assists came from Vermette in the same game, on March 14 at San Jose. For Timonen, it’s been a painstaking process of getting his legs back after 10 months off the ice. For Vermette, it’s been a different kind of frustration. The chances are there, the goals simply aren’t. In fact, dating back to his time with the Coyotes, Vermette has just those two assists in his last 17 games (though he did score the shootout winner against Edmonton on March 6).
“I feel pretty good, getting chances and stuff like that,” Vermette said before picking up his third assist with the Hawks in Sunday’s 4-3 win at Winnipeg. “But it’s going to be nice one of these days to get a lucky bounce, or whatever. I know for sure that if we keep doing what we’re doing, it’s going to come.”
After an encouraging stint with Brandon Saad and Teuvo Teravainen early on, Vermette has played on three different lines already, and even saw some time on Jonathan Toews’ wing. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said that both of the team’s big-name acquisitions are still adapting to their new surroundings.
“That’s a work in progress,” he said. “We’re looking for improvement along the way. They’re experienced guys and you expect them to keep pushing and adding to our team game.”
For Timonen, the challenge has been greater, and the process has been slower.
“The first game, I kind of pulled my groin a little bit, and the next few games were surviving,” he said. “Slowly, day by day, started feeling better, and when you go on the ice, you feel you can do something. It’s been a process, and we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Vermette said it’s important for him and Timonen not to get too frustrated with the process.
“You want to contribute, you wan to chip in in many ways, obviously,” he said. Especially when the team is not getting wins, it could be frustrating. That being said, if you’re getting chances, you’re around it, it’s usually a good sign. I’ve been around quite a bit, and Kimmo, too. You never want to be satisfied, but you can’t get frustrated, either. That’s the trap. That’s where you don’t want to go. You want to keep playing and good things will happen.”