Hawks coach Colliton scratches Perlini for not enough ‘RPMs’ away from puck
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So how is that Nick Schmaltz trade holding up?
It wasn’t looking so hot Sunday for the Blackhawks, who lost to the Canadiens 3-2 at the United Center with one of the two players they acquired from the Coyotes in the Schmaltz deal — winger Brendan Perlini — dressed in his civvies as a healthy scratch.
It was the first scratch for Perlini or center Dylan Strome in seven games since joining the Hawks, but it wasn’t much of a surprise. Perlini’s utterly disappointing game log with the Hawks features zero points and ice time in sharp decline.
‘‘We know he’s got a lot to offer,’’ coach Jeremy Colliton said. ‘‘For me, I’m looking for one thing: his RPMs to go up away from the puck. He’s a great skater. I just want him to [show], when he doesn’t have the puck, he can still make things happen and give us something and create things for himself and his linemates.’’
Perlini, 22, played only 5 minutes, 26 seconds Thursday against the Golden Knights in Las Vegas. Strome, on the other hand, was on the ice for a career-high 19:14 in that game. No doubt, Strome — who has three goals for the Hawks — is for now the more important puzzle piece.
But even Strome hasn’t had as much of an impact with the Hawks as Schmaltz has had with the Coyotes. Schmaltz has three goals and six points in his first six games with the Coyotes, generating buzz about potentially stepping into the role of No. 1 center. Strome consistently has skated on the Hawks’ third line.
If Perlini — a 17-goal scorer last season — goes into the tank and stays there, the trade might be rued and ripped here for a long while.
‘‘Just because he comes out [of the lineup] tonight doesn’t change how we feel about him,’’ Colliton said before the game. ‘‘I think he can really contribute for us, not just in the future but right now. We’re just trying to get him there as quick as we can.’’
Veteran winger Chris Kunitz and struggling defenseman Jan Rutta also were scratched.
Defenseman Connor Murphy, his back injury behind him at last, played for the first time this season and nearly scored on his first shift. He ventured deep into the offensive zone to take a pass from Brandon Saad, but his shot from inside the crease was turned away by Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
Shooting the puck isn’t what Murphy missed most, though. Banging into bad guys is.
‘‘That’s the best part, I think,’’ he said. ‘‘You wind up against your own teammates in practice. It’s fun to battle, but it’s not the same. You get a little bit of extra edge when you’re going against someone that you’re trying to beat.’’
Center Jonathan Toews remained two points short of 700 with the team. The only Hawks to beat him there were Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Denis Savard, Steve Larmer, Patrick Kane and Doug Wilson. Mikita’s 1,467 points will be hard to reach.