COLUMBUS, Ohio — Anthony Duclair wanted out of Arizona because he was too often a healthy scratch, and too often playing limited minutes.
Well, in the last two weeks with the Blackhawks, he was a healthy scratch three times in a four-game stretch, and played just 10 minutes, 41 seconds Friday night against the Sharks. But Duclair is keeping a positive outlook on his situation, knowing he just spent eight games on Jonathan Toews’ line, averaging 16 minutes per night.
“It’s been up and down the roller coaster a little bit,” Duclair said. “But I know I can get back there. We have a great team here and anybody in this lineup can play in a top-six role. The lines have been shuffling game in, game out because we had been struggling. But if we find a groove and if I find my groove, it’ll increase my ice time.”
Duclair made the most of his limited minutes against the Sharks. He had two primary assists in the Hawks’ 3-1 victory, and Joel Quenneville said “he was much better.”
“He made good plays with the puck,” Quenneville said. “He had more speed in his game, more possession.”
Duclair chalked up the lack of ice time Friday — the least on the team —to Quenneville matching lines on home ice. And Quenneville said he expected Duclair’s ice time to increase again because he’ll be back on the power play.
Seven weeks into his Hawks career, the 22-year-old Duclair said he feels comfortable in the dressing room and in Quenneville’s system. Having been a trade-deadline acquisition in the past —the Coyotes got him from the Rangers in the Keith Yandle trade in 2015 —Duclair is hoping to stick around Chicago for a while. That’s general manager Stan Bowman’s plan, too.
“It’s been a good fit for me,” Duclair said. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I first came here, but the guys have been doing a great job of settling me in here and I can’t speak enough good things about the staff and the coaches here. I love it here, so I would love to be a part of their future plans.”
For all the talk about Brandon Saad’s disappointing season, he entered Saturday’s game with 15 goals, just two fewer than the man for whom he was traded, Artemi Panarin. But Panarin has had a much more dynamic season, with 32 assists to Saad’s 12.
Panarin’s presence has been sorely missed on the power play. He had 17 power-play goals in his two seasons with the Hawks. Only Artem Anisimov (nine) has more than five for the Hawks this season. And the line of Panarin, Anisimov and Patrick Kane frequently carried the rest of the Hawks’ offense, which has needed some carrying this season.
“That was our go-to line, knowing that they would be very consistently producing,” Quenneville said. “We knew he was a special player, and we wish him nothing but the best.”
‘O’ from ‘D’
Jan Rutta’s goal against the Sharks was just the second by a Hawks defenseman in 14 games. Rutta has six goals; the other six Hawks defensemen have combined for just nine.
“Whether you score or not, you need the ‘D’ to be part of your attack,” Quenneville said. “The whole league is a four-man rush game, five-man attacks, coming at you, night-in, night-out, wave after wave. … Offensive production from the back end in today’s game really enhances your offense and your possession game.”
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