There’s always intrigue when 20-year-old Teuvo Teravainen steps on the ice, so it’s no surprise that Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was noticeably upbeat about teaming the touted rookie with Patrick Sharp and Antoine Vermette on the Hawks’ third line.
“The three of them looked good out there,” Quenneville said after the Hawks practiced at the United Center in preparation for the opener of their second-round series with the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
“They all got different dimensions to their game. [Tervainen’s] got two experienced guys out there. I like his presence, as well. I think he’s going to add some speed and predictability on both sides of the puck. Potentially, it could really be a good line for us.”
The line’s potential chemistry is evident. When Sharp beat Corey Crawford with a snipe in practice off a pass from Teravainen, the three line mates jokingly celebrated as if it were in a game.
“I think we have a pretty good combination there,” Teravainen said. “We have some speed. We can shoot the puck. Really smart guys. If we play together, it’s going to be good.”
Teravainen, who scored four goals an nine points, with a plus-4 rating in 34 games with the Hawks in the regular season, played in the first two games of the first-round playoff series against the Predators. In the opener, he assisted on a goal by Niklas Hajalmarsson to start the Hawks’ recovery from a 3-0 deficit in a 4-3 double-overtime victory. But he was a minus-2 in Game 2 and was benched for the rest of the series.
“I think I learned a lot,” Teravainen said. “The first game was good. We won the game. The second one, I think I didn’t play that good and we lost the game, too. I’ve just been practicing hard and working hard to get back. I’ve got a lot of experience.”
As the season progress, Teravainen’s game-to-game progress became more and more obvious. It remains to be seen if he can continue that growth in a playoff environment.
“It’s such a learning process, but he’s a very gifted player, a great set of skills,” Vermette said. “He’s very creative. Good hands. He’s fun to play with. I think his game is suitable to the type of game we’re playing. I thought we played well when we played together at points during the season. He’s going to bring an offensive dimension for sure. I’m sure he’s eager to go.”
That he is, with a few lessons learned from his first playoff experience.
“I know I can play. I know I can help the team,” Teravainen said. “I just have to find my game and play smart, simple hockey. Just go straight-forward — shoot the puck and it should be good.”
Teravainen has been up and down between the Hawks and Rockford and in and out of the lineup. He seemed unfazed by losing his roster spot in after two games of the Nashville series.
“I’m sure he’s eager to go,” Vermette said.
“It’s been good,” Teravainen said. “I like … playoff-type hockey. I like this time of year. We have a lot of experience in our locker room, so I can [see] what some guys go on the ice and off the ice. It’s all professional here.”