Vinnie Hinostroza hoping to make Schmaltz-like second impression

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Vinnie Hinostroza (48) celebrates a goal in a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 18 at the United Center. (Matt Marton/AP)

Vinnie Hinostroza is back. But it remains to be seen if it’s just in time or a little too late to make a difference for the Blackhawks this season.

Tanner Kero and Nick Schmaltz have solidified their postseason status. Hinostroza is in their league as a young player. But with a week to go in the regular season, he’ll have to make a quick second impression.

Hinostroza was a healthy scratch against the Blue Jackets on Friday night after being recalled from Rockford. But coach Joel Quenne-ville said he will “look to get him in” before the end of the regular season.

Hinostroza, who turns 23 on Monday, has six goals and 14 points with an even rating in 48 games this season. He had three goals and six points in 10 games with the IceHogs.

“I think I just needed to get my confidence and play a lot of minutes and have the puck,” said Hinostroza, who was sent down on Feb. 12 after the team acquired forward Tomas Jurco. “I went down there and played every part of the game — power play, penalty kill. I’m pretty confident coming back here.”

The Hawks are hoping for the same Rockford bump they got from Schmaltz, who had one goal and four points in 26 games before his demotion, and five goals and 23 points in 30 games since being recalled.

“You get to play more and you learn offensively, probably get more comfortable with the puck, play in all situations,” Quenneville said, when asked about the benefits of being demoted. “You get that appetite of getting back here is part of that as well.

“It’s all part of developing as young guys, and we have some depth here. Not everybody can play right now and now it’s even [more difficult]. But Vinnie gives us an ingredient that we like, and that’s quickness and speed and tenacity.”

Anisimov update

Quenneville still has full confidence that injured center Artem Anisimov, who has missed the last nine games with a lower leg injury, will return for the playoff opener.

“Right now, yes,” he said. “He’s not skating much — may have tried it. I still think he’ll probably push it a little bit when we’re gone [next] week. But our focus is to make sure he’s 100 percent for Game 1.”

And a cast of thousands

The Hawks’ morning skate was a little more festive than usual. It was held in front of more than 2,000 kids participating in the NHL’s Future Goals program, which uses hockey to help students utilize science and math skills to prepare them to succeed in life.

Patrick Kane entertained some of the kids by tossing pucks into the stands with his stick.

“It’s funny when you show ‘em a puck that potentially you’re going to throw in the crowd, they get all excited,” Kane said. “It was cool. A little bit different for a morning skate. Keeps things fresh and interesting. The Blackhawks do a great job with the Future Goals program and nice to have them out here for the skate this morning. Hopefully they had fun too.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.


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