“Someone needs to step up.”
It’s a phrase you hear often when regular players are out of the lineup.
It’s exactly what happened in Columbus, on Friday night, as the Chicago Blackhawks evened their record at 2-2-1 with a 5-2 victory over the Blue Jackets.
With Patrick Kane, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brian Campbell missing, names like Viktor Stalberg, Jack Skille, Nick Boynton, Bryan Bickell and even Jassen Cullimore, all earned points. Of course so did Sharp (2 g), Hossa (2 pts), and Kopecky (2 pts) but it’s those other names that helped make the difference.
Cullimore, in particular, epitomized the role player contributions. Recalled from Rockford after spending over 10 hours on planes the previous day, according to Pat Foley on Comcast Sportsnet, he played 18:54. Cullimore is a survivor, playing in an NHL game last, in April of 2009, before Friday.
“He looked very good,” Quenneville said on Comcast after the game. “His size and strength in the puck areas. He’s got some experience that helped us settle things down back there.”
Quenneville didn’t shoot down the thought of Cullimore staying with the Hawks for more than just a one game fill-in.
“He certainly helped himself tonight,” Quenneville said. “We’ll talk about it.”
Stalberg showed his best burst yet, splitting the defense and scoring a highlight reel goal to open the scoring. The Hawks fourth line continued a strong start to the season.
“The pace was fast early,” Quenneville said. “It was the type of goal we were looking for…He used his speed to break through the gut. That got us going.”
The final margin of victory was sorely needed. With the Hawks up by three after two periods, Quenneville was able to rest some of his key players—Duncan Keith in particular.
Keith broke his string of 30 minute nights at four -- he played 23:16 against the Jackets -- which means he should have plenty left in the tank as the Hawks finish their first set of back to back games on Saturday against Buffalo.
He can thank the Hawks role players for an easier night.