Daniel Carcillo has turned some heads this season with flashes of skill and consistently disciplined play. But his game is built on energy and hustle above all else, and that’s what made him an everyday player in the Blackhawks lineup throughout the first half of the season.
And it’s what he’ll need to find again if he wants to get back in the lineup.
“Its nothing physical, it’s nothing like that,” said Carcillo, who was a healthy scratch for the second straight game Tuesday night, again replaced by Joakim Nordstrom. “You go through ebbs and flows through the year, and this is a bit of a lower point. I need to pick up my game, it’s pretty simple.”
Carcillo was held without a point in his last eight games, and saw his minutes drop dramatically. In the Winter Classic against Washington on Jan. 1, he played just 3:38. In the previous game against Nashville, he played just 5:03.
“Pace,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said when asked what earned Carcillo the benching. “His pace hasn’t been the same as it was most of the year.”
Said Carcillo: “Pace means speed, moving your feet, getting to pucks quickly before the guys, winning battles. I’ve tailed off here lately and I knew it. Just got to get my game back.”
It can be difficult for a player to work his way back into Quenneville’s lineup. Unless there’s an injury, he rarely changes the lineup when things are going well. And this far into the season, he holds maybe one practice a week. That makes morning skates and off-ice workouts critical for a player such as Carcillo, both to win over Quenneville and keep himself ready.
“There’s not many practices here,” he said. “You’ve just got to do what you can to get on bikes, and get in the gym and stay [in shape].”
With Nordstrom and Teuvo Teravainen fighting for playing time, and a few more Rockford IceHogs knocking on the door, Carcillo said he got the message.
“There are great young players in this organization; they draft really well,” he said. “You have to be ready. When you’re in the lineup, you have to do something to stay there. You’ve got to play well enough to stay in the lineup. The last game and the few games before that haven’t been good enough for me. I’ve got to smarten up.”