CALGARY, Alberta — Richard Panik wasn’t happy about being scratched for two straight games against the Kings and Flyers. So when he got the chance to get back in the lineup. he went out and did something about it.
“I didn’t play two games before that, so maybe I got mad, I got [ticked] off,” Panik said. “And I think I had really good games. I’m more into the game, hitting guys and shooting more pucks.”
Panik has scored in each of the past two games, and has 11 shots on goal in the three games since he was a healthy scratch. So while Dale Weise was a big-name acquisition, he’s the odd-man out of the lineup Saturday against Calgary with Marcus Kruger returning, while the almost-forgotten Panik will play on the third line with Tomas Fleischmann and Teuvo Teravainen.
“He’s certainly earned the opportunity to stay in the lineup based on how he’s played,” Joel Quenneville said. “We don’t mind having options. We have five lines right now and two extra defensemen, five guys who have to be rested. Some nights, some guys won’t be happy. But we like the internal competition.”
Weise was expected to have a major impact on the Hawks roster, but has just one assist in nine games since joining the Hawks, with just 11 shots on goal in those games. He said he wasn’t disappointed by being out of the lineup, and “that’s the way it goes.” He said the Hawks will need to lean on their depth down the stretch.
Panik could do the roster math after the Hawks acquired Andrew Ladd, Weise and Fleischmann at the trade deadline. But he’s doing everything he can to force Quenneville’s hand.
“It’s a competition between us guys who are rotating now, and whoever gets hot is going to play,” Panik said. “I’m just going to play my game and hopefully it’s going to be me.”