At center or wing, Nick Schmaltz looking to contribute

Sunday was Nick Schmaltz’s second game back at left wing. If that’s where the Blackhawks need him in the long term, he’s fine with it. And if the Hawks see him as a center, he’s fine with that, too.

‘‘I could be bouncing around, whether there’s injuries or personnel,’’ Schmaltz said before notching two assists in the Hawks’ 7-5 loss to the Devils. ‘‘I could be playing center, wing, it doesn’t matter. I enjoy both, and they’re just a little bit different defensively. Other than that, still try to be myself offensively.’’

As he did Saturday against the Hurricanes, Schmaltz played on a line with right wing Patrick Kane and center Artem Anisimov. It’s a line that should produce, but it’s not part of the plan coach Joel Quenneville and the Hawks had for the lineup. They hoped Schmaltz would establish himself as a second-line center, but he had only three goals and two assists there.

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Nick Schmaltz, seen during a game earlier this season in Denver, is back at left wing where he played much of last season. | AP

Schmaltz, however, said he felt pretty good at center, though he wanted to be better at faceoffs (38.7 percent entering Sunday).

‘‘I think I struggled a little bit in some games [with faceoffs],’’ Schmaltz said. ‘‘That’s a work in progress. But with the puck, I felt good and felt like I was using my speed through the middle and creating some offense.’’

Quenneville didn’t close the door on Schmaltz moving back to center, but he liked what he saw from him at wing against the Hurricanes.

‘‘You explore different options,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘We still think that he can play center at any moment for us. I thought he had more speed, more noticeability off the rush [Saturday]. Having the puck more a little bit there, as well. I thought he looked better there, but I’m not throwing out him being in the middle as a potential option.’’

What about Vinnie?

Winger Vinnie Hinostroza scored two goals in Rockford’s 5-2 victory Saturday against Milwaukee in the American Hockey League. He has seven goals and eight assists in 14 games to lead the IceHogs in scoring and would be an obvious choice for any call-up the Hawks might need.

But there might not be a way to make that happen right now without an injury, a possibility Quenneville didn’t seem too eager to discuss.

‘‘It’s not like we’re disappointed in anybody up here,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘You don’t like talking about things like that because, on a need basis, the picture can change and it’s a whole different thing. We’ll see how that plays out.’’

Secord skates

The Hawks welcomed back Al Secord for ‘‘One More Shift’’ before the game. Secord played parts of eight seasons with the Hawks and scored 54 goals in 1982-83.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.

 

Previously from Sports