With Kane and Toews injured the forlorn have come to the rescue - Fox 2 News Headlines

With Kane and Toews injured the forlorn have come to the rescue

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Blackhawks were more rested and the home crowd helped energize the injury depleted squad. Those factors didn't hurt but weren't the main reasons the Hawks defeated St. Louis 4-2 in a Sunday matinee. The Blackhawks handled the first place Blues because they outworked them and played an efficient game.

The score was flattering to the Blues as they connected on an early opening frame power play. The Blues went on the man advantage due to a poor decision by Andrew Shaw to retaliate. St. Louis then scored a second goal with 2:02 remaining in the final period on a shot Corey Crawford should have saved. In between the two tallies the Blackhawks imposed their will as the Blues managed only 11 shots through forty minutes.

When Patrick Kane was injured Hawk fans anxiously awaited the highly touted young center, Teuvo Teräväinen to come and save the day. That seemed to be the popular opinion of many avid fans.

What has happened couldn't be further from what was anticipated.

To be clear Teravainen deserves no blame, after all the NHL is a big step up in class for the slightly built 19 year old. So far Teravainen has played in only three games and hasn't had an impact.

Those who have shouldered the load since Kane and Jonathan Toews have been out are players who were not thought of as saviors.

Jeremy Morin wasn't playing poorly in Rockford but not good enough to warrant playing time in Chicago. Morin finally got called up after Kane went down. Word going around then was he would stay in Chicago for the rest of the regular season. Whether that was the true story or not, Morin has deserved to keep playing.

In Rockford, Morin struck me as a player trying to do too much. Many plays would end with Morin not creating a scoring opportunity, or because of turnovers. Morin seems to have improved his defensive play which is a must to get ice time on a Joel Quenneville team. More important, Morin has simplified things.

Morin is playing a north/south game and is creating scoring chances that way, and is also denting the twine. On Sunday, Morin had a goal and an assist. In his last three games the youngster has recorded a total of two goals plus two assists and has been getting over 13 minutes of ice time.

With the IceHogs, Morin seemed hell-bent on creating offense, maybe he felt pressured to do so. With the Blackhawks success has come by being a complete player. Sometimes less is more and that seems to be the case with Morin.

Peter Regin has looked better the more he has played. When Regin first was acquired his efforts were sporadic but now he looks like a good addition. His improved play has given Quenneville more options for the third and fourth lines.

Then there is Bryan Bickell who many Hawk faithful had written off as player who signed a bloated contract and disappeared. Bickell has a goal and an assist the last two games, but more important, he is involved.

Bickell has recorded 15 shots over his last five games and that hasn't happened in any other five game span this season. That stretch includes two games before an upper body injury and three since returning. Maybe Bickell has his head on straight now, or possibly his leg injury from earlier this season has finally healed. Regardless of the reason Bickell has made his presence felt.

Ben Smith is dialed in every game and does whatever is asked. Maybe Smith is best suited as a fourth line player but he hasn't looked out of place when asked to move in the lineup.

Brandon Saad caught my attention recently and it wasn't in a good way. The same can be said for Quenneville who scratched Saad on Sunday.

Saad has had some rough games and over the last five contests has recorded only one point. More important Saad is a -5 over the same stretch, and that hasn't happened at any other time this season.

Interestingly Saad has been shooting the puck. He didn't record a shot in Columbus but had 18 shots over the previous six games.

Saad seemed to avoid a sophomore slump until recently but maybe he has tried to do too much offensively since Kane has been out. It doesn't take much to throw things out of balance and Saad's overall game has dropped off, especially defensively.

Quenneville mentioned making difficult decisions as to playing time is a good thing. That makes sense as with more players doing well there are additional options for the head coach.

Quenneville sent a forceful message to Saad by sitting him. The Hawks bench boss didn't pull any punches and remarked it was not a difficult decision to scratch Saad.

One point should be considered, Saad played a shorter season last year due to the lockout. This time Saad has played more games than ever before and maybe fatigue is partly to blame.

Scorers for Chicago were Morin, Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Smith added an empty net goal.

The Hawks have won three in a row but they aren't playing flawless hockey.

There have been unforced turnovers by players who should know better. The defense has missed Johnny Oduya and Crawford has been letting in some soft goals. Shaw took a dumb penalty versus the Blues. Brandon Bollig got into a senseless staged fight, which came right after a Chicago goal. The power play is powerless since Kane has been out. So there have been issues, but in the same regard the outlook is brighter.

What matters most is Quenneville has now what wasn't happening at other times during this season. That is a number of players are working hard and competing for ice time. Plus some of the urgency and focus which was missing seems to be back and Hawk fans should be excited by the change.

The Blackhawks will play their last regular season game at the United Center on Wednesday night. The red hot Canadiens will be the opponent. Montreal has won eight of their last ten games.

I will be back on Thursday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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