Handzus, Smith to Sit As Blackhawks Battle Wild Saturday

Joel Quenneville looking to shake up lineup as Hawks start home-and-home with Wild

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 The Chicago Blackhawks recalled forwards Jeremy Morin and Brad Mills from the Rockford IceHogs on Friday afternoon, and both players will be in the lineup for the Hawks Saturday night. Michal Handzus will sit out the game with an upper-body injury, and Ben Smith will likely be a healthy scratch to make room for the two newly recalled players.

Handzus is coming off of a rough game for the Blackhawks on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He repeatedly was slow to join in on rushes and cost the Hawks some scoring chances, and he also committed a silly penalty late in the game by falling on the puck and covering it with his hand in the face-off dot, a blatant no-no. That penalty led to a Tampa goal that would have won the game if it hadn’t been for Radko Gudas’ deflection for an own goal, and when Morin and Mills were called up, it was apparent that Handzus would probably be the guy riding the pine.

In addition to the Handzus injury, both players are going to be looked at to inject something into the Hawks’ lineup. Morin has been on a tear this season with the IceHogs, scoring four times and adding four assists in eight games with Rockford this season. He also has racked up a remarkable 34 shots on goal in those eight games, which is nearly double what anyone else on the team has at this point.

As for Mills, head coach Joel Quenneville said that he will be looked at to provide a lift to a penalty killing unit that is the worst in the NHL through 10 games this season. Guys like Smith, Brandon Saad, Handzus, and Joakim Nordstrom have all been given a look at that position, and none have matched the effectiveness of Michael Frolik, so perhaps it will be fifth time’s the charm for Quenneville and company.

After coughing up yet another third period lead on Thursday, perhaps this infusion of new blood into the lineup will have a positive impact for the Hawks. They seem to get stagnant at times during games, and even though they do have a 6-1-3 record on the year, Quenneville and GM Stan Bowman do seem to be looking to shake things up just a little bit with these moves.

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