If the patch of blood on the ice wasn’t enough to ensure Ryan Hartman was headed for an extended stay in the penalty box, the hole in Dmitri Orlov’s smile sure was. Hartman didn’t protest the double-minor he got for high-sticking in Washington on Wednesday, but he said it certainly wasn’t intentional.
“Kind of got slew-footed [by Orlov] and fell backward, got my stick up,” Hartman said. “It happens.”
It has been happening a little too often, apparently. The Blackhawks’ coaching staff told Hartman the penalty in Washington was the primary reason for him being the odd man out when Vinnie Hinostroza returned to the lineup. Hartman took a tripping penalty late in the third period, too. Hartman sat out the game Sunday against the Coyotes, too.
Hartman has 24 penalty minutes in 27 games, tied with Richard Panik for the team lead. That said, he had only one minor penalty in his previous nine games. At this point last season, he had taken only one minor penalty before finishing with 70.
“I’ve been pretty good about it,” Hartman said. “I haven’t taken too many penalties.”
Hartman always has to walk a fine line. Part of what makes him so valuable is his ability to get under opponents’ skin and draw penalties. At least twice this season, he has faked a punch to get a rise out of an opposing player. He’s usually in the middle of things when games get heated.
Coach Joel Quenneville loves that. Within reason, though.
“He’s always got that fine line and gets monitored closely by the officials and opponents, as well,” Quenneville said. “You want to be hard to play against, and some penalties are because you’re playing the right way. . . . That’s always something you have to measure, but don’t change your game to find that fine line. Be hard to play against. But let’s make sure the ones we take are part of the team game.”
Anton Forsberg has appeared in 20 NHL games and has earned a decision in 15 of them. He has only two wins. This season, he’s 1-4-3 with a 3.33 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. Five of his losses are by one goal, and the Hawks have scored two or fewer goals in his last five starts.
“Obviously, it’s nagging me a little bit that the wins don’t come,” Forsberg said.
Forsberg had his first clunker in a while in the 6-2 loss at Washington on Wednesday, giving up three goals in a little more than three minutes and getting pulled for J-F Berube. But he said his brief three-game stint as the Hawks’ No. 1 goalie helped him get into a better rhythm.
“For a goalie, it’s almost like a game in itself,” Forsberg said. “Even though it’s a team game. The win I have this year was in Carolina, and that was probably not my best game, but I still won. So it goes both ways. Sometimes you’re going to have a bad game and still win, and sometimes you’re going to have a good game and lose. But sooner or later, it’s going to turn around, as long as I keep my confidence up and keep working and try to improve my game every day.”
Ex-Hawks goalie Antti Raanta has never lost in regulation at the United Center, going 15-0-3 (including one game as a visitor, a shutout with the Rangers) with a .944 save percentage. But rather than save him for Sunday, the Coyotes played him Saturday in Columbus, where he lost 1-0. Niklas Hjalmarsson, meanwhile, missed his sixth consecutive game with an upper-body injury.
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