Tim Erixon has had a month now to learn the ins and outs of the Blackhawks’ defensive system, and he believes it suits him and his strengths perfectly.
If only he had a chance to prove it.
Erixon will be a healthy scratch for the seventh straight game tonight when the Hawks host the Winnipeg Jets. It’s not what he envisioned when he was traded to Chicago by the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jeremy Morin. Much like the guy he was traded for, Erixon finds himself on the outside of the lineup, just waiting for his opportunity.
“Yeah, it’s not what you want, right?” he said with a shrug. “I’ve been sitting for a bit here. But I know I’ve got to kind of earn trust from the coaches and just keep working hard and do some extra stuff out there on the ice, and just stay ready and keep developing.”
Erixon was playing regularly with the Blue Jackets for the first two months of the season as they dealt with injuries to James Wisniewski and Fedor Tyutin, among others. They even traded for St. Louis’ Jordan Leopold and claimed Kevin Connauton off waivers from Dallas to bolster the blue line.
“Then everyone comes back, and we have 10 D all of a sudden,” Erixon said. “So it wasn’t until the end in Columbus that I wasn’t playing much. I was getting some pretty good ice time until then.”
In Chicago, that ice time has gone to Erixon’s best friend on the Hawks, fellow Swede David Rundblad, who will play in his 11th straight game tonight. Rundblad has been getting his first extended playing time with the Hawks, and is even getting a look on the power play. Erixon hopes to get a similar chance at some point, though with Trevor van Riemsdyk expected back well before the end of the regular season, time is of the essence.
With Michal Rozsival playing regularly, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said that sixth defenseman spot is basically down to Rundblad and Erixon, and Rundblad has been playing too well to sit.
“Just keep working hard, you know? Wait for your chance,” Quenneville said. “[Erixon] was fine in his games. We have Rundblad playing in that spot right now, and I think he’s coming along OK.”
Erixon has five shots on goal and is a plus-2 in his five games with the Hawks.
“I know what to do — just keep working at it, keep developing my game,” he said. “I’m still a pretty young guy and I know I can improve in certain areas. I just need to be ready for when my chance comes.”