After sitting out Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks winger Teuvo Teravainen could have allowed the disappointment of being scratched get to him, but he instead handled the situation like a veteran.
He was quickly added back into the lineup for Game 4 of the series after the Hawks lost a lackluster 2-1 decision on home ice, and he had an excellent game at both ends of the ice. He was aggressive on the forecheck when he didn’t have the puck, forcing the Ducks into a couple of key turnovers and creating possessions for his team. He also looked more confident with the puck on his stick, creating scoring chances for Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp throughout the contest.
He ended up with an assist in that 5-4 victory, and he came back with a vengeance in Game 5 and upped the ante for himself. With the Blackhawks down 3-0 early in the second period, Teravainen cut through the offensive zone like a skate blade through fresh ice and rifled a wrist shot past Frederik Andersen to make it a 3-1 game. He picked up an assist later in the game when he feathered a perfect pass across the netmouth to Brent Seabrook, and even though the Hawks lost, Teravainen’s skill opened the eyes of plenty of NHL fans in the game.
With salary cap cuts looming on the horizon, the Hawks will need Teravainen to step into a more prominent role, and he is showing that he is capable of handling the additional responsibilities. Much like Brandon Saad before him, Teravainen is creating chances with his speed and ice vision, but he is also adding defensive awareness to his arsenal in order to become a more complete player. He’s got a great eye for poke check opportunities, and although his positioning does need some tuning up, he’s looked more solid in that area as the postseason has gone on.
The real question now for the Hawks is whether or not they will turn him loose in more instances in Game 6 Wednesday night. Will he finally get sustained looks on the power play unit? Will he continue to see shifts with Patrick Kane as Joel Quenneville looks for consistent offensive pressure at even strength?
Those questions have yet to be answered, but one has already been solved: Teravainen has serious game, and he’s showing it at a key time for the Blackhawks.