The Chicago Blackhawks placed Brandon Mashinter into the lineup for Bryan Bickell against the Colorado Avalanche. It was the second time Mashinter had played since December 22. The move was meant to generate some offense for the struggling fourth line. The move generated instant results as Mashinter scored the game’s first goal and nearly scored a second in the first period. The Blackhawks offense would get goals from all four lines for the first this season.
Despite being a healthy scratch in six of the last seven games, Mashinter has made the most of his time on the ice. He has two goals in his 18 games with the Blackhawks. The 18 games with the Blackhawks is the longest stint with an NHL team in his career. He also recorded his first NHL goal with the Blackhawks this season. Mashinter is one of the Blackhawks’ prospects to score his first NHL goals this season.
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With Bickell struggling and Richard Panik not acclimated to the Blackhawks yet, Mashinter hopefully should get a longer look. Mashinter is not going to be a dynamic offensive player, but hopefully he can be what everyone thought Bickell would be — someone who can score goals when he gets chances and uses his size to hit people. Mashinter is also not afraid to drop the gloves when necessary. He is not an enforcer type player, but he is a bigger player (6-foot-4, 212, lbs.) who can use his size on the fourth line. Hopefully this tweak to the fourth line gives the Blackhawks the ability to roll four lines and spread out more minutes and scoring.
If Mashinter continues to give the Blackhawks value, it will be another savvy move by Stan Bowman. Bowman acquired Mashinter for Kyle Beach. Beach was the 11th overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft and never made it to the NHL with the Blackhawks. Beach is viewed by many as the worst pick during the Blackhawks Golden Era. Beach currently plays in Austria for Graz EC.
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The Blackhawks should continue to play Mashinter on the fourth line for the foreseeable future until he stinks up the joint or they find someone better. Mashinter in the lineup should hopefully end Bickell’s time on the fourth line this season. Bickell has produced less than Manshiter and has more games played. In 23 games, Bickell has zero goals and two assists. In addition to not scoring or hitting, Bickell seems to kill every offensive rush with an errant pass.
If anything, Mashinter can’t be any worse than Bickell has been this season. (I never thought I would be writing this).