CHICAGO -- Ryan Stanton may already be an NHL defenseman if he was playing for another organization.
Stanton plays for the Chicago Blackhawks, though, and that means trying to break into what may be the league’s hardest defensive group to crack.
The Blackhawks have returned all seven defensemen from last season’s Stanley Cup team. In returnees Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy, Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank, the Blackhawks possess skill and experience. None of the defensemen have played fewer than 176 career NHL games. The 24-year-old Stanton has played one NHL game.
Stanton received an opportunity to play with some of the returnees in the Blackhawks’ preseason opener on Tuesday evening, and he took advantage of it. He had a plus-2 rating in 20:09 of ice time in the Blackhawks’ 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center.
“I’m just trying to play a solid game each night,” Stanton said. “Just trying to get better day by day here. Just go out, play my game, work as hard as I can and make their decisions hard by my play.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville certainly noticed Stanton’s effort on Tuesday.
“We’ve always liked him,” Quenneville said. “I thought he had a real strong [game] as the whole group of [defensemen] did tonight.”
Stanton also showed a willingness to defend his teammates. After Blackhawks defenseman Mike Kostka was checked illegally into the boards by Red Wings forward Teemu Pulkkinen in the first period, Stanton skated in and shoved Pulkkinen as the officials quickly broke them up. Pulkkinen received a game misconduct for boarding, and Stanton was given a two-minute penalty for roughing.
“That was definitely a dirty hit that [Pulkkinen] wants back,” Stanton said. “I tried to get in there. He was on there, and I just gave him a shove. 'Let him know I was there' type of thing.”
Teravainen’s first game: Blackhawks prospect Teuvo Teravainen played in his first NHL game on Tuesday. He started at center alongside wings Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell. Teravainen had zero points and a plus-1 rating.
“Of course, it was a nice game and good win for us,” Teravainen said. “I think the game is a little bit faster than Finland. You need to be smart and ready on the ice.
“It’s awesome [at the United Center]. The fans are crazy.”
Faceoff struggles: The Blackhawks won 19 faceoffs and lost 30 against the Red Wings. None of the Blackhawks’ centers had a winning faceoff percentage. Brandon Saad, who is learning to play center, was 4-of-14 from the dot.
“[The Red Wings have] always been one of the top teams in the league,” Quenneville said of the faceoffs. “They have some guys who are very efficient at it. It definitely wasn’t one of our strong points today. We got to learn from it.”
“That line was very effective,” Quenneville said. “I thought they had a good night. [Kruger], I thought was very good out there. I think he’s one of those guys who is easy to play with. I think [Kruger and Nordstrom] have a little relationship and rapport together those two guys being from Sweden. There’s a little chemistry on the PK. I think they will be more in tune as we go along.”