As a defensive-minded forward and a penalty-killer, it’s always been Andrew Desjardins’ job to step in front of slap shots. And that won’t change the next time he’s on the ice, even though the last time he put himself in harm’s way, he suffered a lower-body injury that has cost him three weeks and counting.
“That’s one of those things you can’t really think about,” Desjardins said after participating in his first morning skate of the regular season on Sunday. “You’ve just got to do the right things, and obviously use your body in whichever way possible to prevent goals. I’m going to put that [out] of the back of my mind, just play, and not worry about that too much.”
Desjardins suffered an apparent foot injury when he blocked a shot in the third period of the Blackhawks’ preseason finale at St. Louis on Oct. 8. He started skating on his own Saturday, and rejoined his teammates for an optional skate Sunday morning. Desjardins has now been fitted with skate protectors, which lessen the chance of getting hurt on a blocked shot off the foot. While they’re common in the NHL, Desjardins had never worn them. The first significant injury of his career was enough to make him a convert.
There’s no exact timetable for Desjardins’ return, but Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll have a better idea after seeing how the veteran responds over the next couple of days.
“Maybe by the weekend, we’ll have a clearer idea,” Quenneville said. “He certainly looks pretty good out there. Conditioning’s part of it, but you’ve also got to make sure the injury is fully healed and you’re ready.”
Desjardins led all Hawks forwards in shorthanded ice time last season. He knows he can’t be the savior of the team’s historically bad penalty-kill, which had allowed 15 goals on 30 power plays entering Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, but he’s eager to get back on the ice and help.
“The guys have been working hard and trying to correct some of the mistakes that have been occurring,” Desjardins said. “[It’s] a team thing, and one player is not going to change that completely. But you obviously want to be out there to help when you can.”
Artem Anisimov entered Sunday’s game just two points off the league lead with five goals and five assists through eight games. But his 37.1 faceoff percentage is second-worst in the league among players with at least 100 draws. After going a dismal 35-of-100 over his first seven games, Anisimov’s 8-of-16 effort Friday in New Jersey was a big step in the right direction.
“A little bit, just a little bit,” Anisimov said with a laugh. “Like 5 percent better.”
Anisimov has been working with faceoff specialist and Hawks development coach Yanic Perreault.
“We just talk about what I need to do, and we just pick two or three things that I need to focus on,” Anisimov said. “I just tried to focus on the last game and it was helpful.”
Gustav Forsling missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury on Sunday. Quenneville said the rookie defenseman “possibly” could play Tuesday against Calgary.