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Chicago Blackhawks: The Kids Need To Step Up

By Sean Fitzgerald
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With the offense struggling to score, the Chicago Blackhawks have been busy making moves to reshape their roster. The Blackhawks recently recalled Tanner Kero and Ryan Hartman to jump start their offense. Kero, the week of his call up, was the AHL Player of the Week. He had recorded 6 goals and 1 assist at Rockford this season. Hartman also was being productive at Rockford. He had 3 goals and 2 assists this season. The Blackhawks continued to dip into the Rockford talent pool after adding those two, as earlier this week the Blackhawks sent Bryan Bickell down and recalled Marko Dano.

With Marian Hossa now being injured, it is time for the kids to step up! Thus far, Kero and Hartman have produced zero points in three and two games, respectively. Dano has only appeared in one game and did not produce a point. In their first game together, Kero, Hartman and Dano made up the third line. The “Rockford Line” has to start producing goals. Kero produced 8 shots on goal and at least one A+ scoring chance for Hossa in the Winnipeg game. Hartman has 4 shots on goal and might be more of “a guy.” Dano only produced 1 shot in his season debut. Dano has the most promise, and he needs to start realizing it. We know all three of these players have a scoring pedigree. Kero had 20 goals and 20 assists at Michigan Tech last year, Hartman had 13 goals and 24 assists with Rockford last season and Dano had 8 goals and 13 assists with Columbus last season.

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In addition to scoring, Kero, Hartman and Dano need to be able to adapt to new line mates on the fly. Coach Joel Quenneville tried to ease the “kids” in by playing them on the same line, however, by the end  of the game they were all on different lines. The kids have to adapt fast or they will be on their way back to the IceHogs.

Keys to the Blackhawks’ championship runs have been their depth and ability to roll four lines. The Blackhawks do not need Kero, Hartman and Dano to completely replace the departed Patrick Sharp, Brad Richards and Brandon Saad. The Blackhawks need the kids to produce like Bickell (14 goals, 14 assists), Kris Versteeg (14 goals, 20 assists) and Dave Bolland (19 goals, 18 assists in 2011 with the Blackhawks) used to for the team. The Blackhawks’ championship window is still open, but the kids have to fill the void left by departed players to keep it open. There is no more waiting for the kids to mature, the time is now! If the kids do not start producing and soon, this could be a very short summer for the Blackhawks.

Next: Blackhawks Should Let Hossa Rest

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