Promising rookies Brandon Pirri, Jeremy Morin returned to minors

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Hawks center Brandon Pirri (L) and winger Patrick Sharp celebrate Sharp’s second period goal to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead the Chicago Blackhawks went on to a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canandiens Wednesday December 21, 2011 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

The Blackhawks weren’t going to use Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri just to fill out their battered lineup. Coach Joel Quenneville threw them right into the Hawks’ very productive top-two lines.

Morin was put on a line with center Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane for two games, and Pirri had a one-game run at center with wingers Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp.

The rookies’ goals were the same, both said recently.

‘‘I’m just going to keep it simple and do my role,” Pirri said. ‘‘This lineup’s littered with unbelievable players, so just being in the lineup is special.”

‘‘I just try to keep it simple out there,” Morin said. ‘‘There is a bit of nerves going in, especially playing with the players that I did. I know that they can make a lot of plays.”

By the end of it, both players were able to offer glimpses of why they’re considered two of the Hawks’ best prospects. Both were sent back to Rockford on Thursday, but one or both might return after Christmas if Marcus Kruger and Daniel Carcillo haven’t fully recovered from their concussions.

Pirri, in particular, drew praise from Quenneville after notching an assist and a plus-2 rating in 16 minutes, 37 seconds while filling in for Kruger as the Hawks’ second-line center Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens.

Pirri, who leads the IceHogs in scoring, beat out Kruger for a roster spot out of camp before being sent down and replaced by Kruger after one game.

‘‘I liked [Pirri] a lot,” Quenneville said. ‘‘I thought he had more speed than I previously saw. It was nice to see him fit in there. His overall game looked like it was more complete, but the thing [that was] most noticeable was his quickness.”

Morin, meanwhile, was dropped to the fourth line against the Canadiens after spending his first two games this season in the Hawks’ lineup with Kane and Toews.

‘‘It can be tough for Morin coming up from playing in the AHL, and then he’s got to come and play with two guys like us,” Kane said. ‘‘It’s probably a little nerve-racking, but he just has to play the same way he plays and he’ll be fine. He could be good there.”

While he wasn’t able to flash his offensive skills, Morin did show a physical side the Hawks appreciate.

‘‘I try to bring that every night, especially when I come up here,” Morin said. ‘‘I like that side of the game. It’s obviously important. It allows you to play with the puck more, especially when you’re forechecking hard and forcing turnovers.”

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