Sep 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wingTeuvo Teravainen
(86) skates past Detroit Red Wings centerRiley Sheahan
(15) during the third period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks partook in Game 5 of their preseason Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues. They succumbed by a final score of 5-2, but we must remember it was mostly the ‘Hawks B team against the Blues A team. Starters that did make a showing included Bryan Bickell, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Desjardins, and Teuvo Teravainen. While these four led the rest of the scrubs that are trying to make the team, one person that really stood out in the crowd was Teuvo Teravainen.
I can now understand first-hand why Teravainen was so frustrated last year when he was playing for the Rockford IceHogs. He is just so much better than his teammates; nobody seems to be able to keep up. If you single him out as you are watching, this is painfully obvious. Here TT is doing what TT does, and as soon as he makes the perfect pass, his teammate isn’t ready for it. If a teammate tries to set up Teuvo, he was ready for it way before the pass is made. The timing is just off.
Now I know these guys haven’t played together for that long, so the timing is naturally going to be off. But Teravainen just looks like…a starter playing with scrubs. Which of course is exactly what it is.
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Teravainen played most of the night with Bryan Bickell as a linemate. Of course we all know by now that Bryan Bickell has been put on waivers; and I for one am glad Teuvo won’t be forced to play with him on the third line this season. Bicks looked slow and flat-footed all night.
In the meantime, Teravainen was all over the place. Quite frankly, he looked just like Patrick Kane. Early in the first period, he led the charge into the offensive zone, skating with speed and confidence and complete control. He stick-handled his way easily past his defenders. People all over Chicago leaned forward in their seats and said, “Hey would you look at that!” When TT’s opponents did manage to cut off his shot, he made a seemingly perfect pass to Bryan Bickell…and time stood still. Bicks flubbed the pass; a Blues defender retrieved the puck, and the play started back the other way. All the momentum and anticipation was lost. Everyone at home sat back and sighed.
Teravainen also spent a good amount of time on the power play. The Blackhawks had seven power play opportunities, so TT certainly got in his practice time. He seemed to be paired a lot with Kyle Baun and Vincent Hinostroza. The theme of the night, especially on the power play, appeared to be to get the puck to Teravainen so he could make something happen. And he did generate a lot of chances. At one point he made a beautiful pass across the ice to Baun, but Baun couldn’t finish. Teuvo himself was able to get a few great shots off, but Blues goaltender Jake Allen denied him.
It appears that Teravainen is slated as the third line center to start the season, behind Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov. At the end of last season, Teuvo was also playing on the third line, but as a winger alongside Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp. Who Teuvo’s linemates will be this season is still up in the air; but I can pretty much guarantee they won’t be as talented as his two previous partners. Because of the depth of the team, Teuvo could struggle on the bottom 6, just as he did in this last preseason game.
That is why TT’s power play skills can be an advantage to him. In an interview after the game, Joel Quenneville indicated that Teuvo practiced this week on the power play unit with the high-skilled guys (he scored a power play goal in Game 1 of the preseason, with Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook assisting). I believe that will be Teuvo’s opportunity to shine. If he can excel on the power play and show he can play with the big boys, he will be given more chances during five-on-five play as well.
He also has a lot of flexibility. He seems to be comfortable on either wing, as well as center. Because of this, I expect Teravainen to move around in the lineup a lot this season. Coach Q will try him out in many different scenarios, to see which works best.
After all, Teuvo took a big step toward proving himself last year. He played in 34 regular season games, and had 4 goals and 5 assists. But in the playoffs, he suited up for 18 games, and had 4 goals and 6 assists. Teravainen came up big when it counted. He earned the confidence and trust of the coaching staff, and this should bode well for him this year.
I can’t wait to watch Teuvo Teravainen this year! Shoot, I enjoyed the heck out of watching him play in the preseason! If he keeps up his stellar play, this could be a great year for him, and a highly entertaining year for Chicago Blackhawk fans.
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