Dec 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg (23) is congratulated by his teammates for scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
As many of you have probably already heard, Kris Versteeg is set to return tonight vs. the Philadelphia Flyers barring any setbacks. Kris Versteeg has missed the first 4 games due to a lower body injury and if he returns tonight it will be two weeks from the day the injury occurred in practice. Since Versteeg’s return is actually an entire week before originally planned this brings some good news to the Chicago Blackhawks lineup. Let’s take a look at 3 reasons why Kris Versteeg’s return is good for the Blackhawks.
Full lineup that was originally envisioned
For the first time during the 2014-15 season the Chicago Blackhawks will be playing with a healthy lineup. More importantly, this is the lineup which they had originally hoped to have skating out on the ice on opening night but not everything always works as planned. It’s good to know that while they had a few guys nursing injuries they still were able to put together a great start going 3-0-1 but you can tell that they still have not reached their full potential.
Added spark/puzzle piece
Any time you add a player back into the lineup it usually generates some type of spark for a team. The Chicago Blackhawks are constructed in such a way that every player brings something different to the ice and are considered a special piece to the puzzle. When healthy and 100% Kris Versteeg is a solid, versatile forward who also plays well in the defensive zone. Joel Quenneville is known for his consistent change of the lines to add spark to the offense. He has done so once again penciling in Kris Versteeg on the 2nd line besides Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw. This will allow for Coach Q to move Brandon Saad down to the 3rd line where he can help them with the puck possession struggles they have been experiencing. We will have to wait and see what develops from these pairings, before the opening of the season Kris Versteeg was starting on the 3rd line. Quenneville may also do some shuffling between periods if he doesn’t like what he sees but from reports in practice these lines were looking crisp.
Returned a week before expected
It is always good to have a player return to the ice from injury but it is even better when they are able to do so in a shorter period than expected. After suffering an ACL injury in 2013 and coming back too soon last year, Kris Versteeg hit the offseason in stride and worked very hard to get his game back to the speed it was before the injury. He looked sharp and ready to go in the preseason but during practice two days before the season opener he sustained another lower body injury. Luckily it was not related to the repaired ACL. It never was specifically disclosed what was hurt but it is a sigh of relief that the most recent injury appears to have been fairly minor with his quick return.
Blackhawks fans will definitely be monitoring his play along with the coaches. If Kris Versteeg hopes to keep his spot on that second line he will have to produce or bring something special to that line. Speed and consistency are a must so Kris Versteeg has to be prepared for the challenge. We will find out tonight at 8:30ET on NBCS.
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