ROCKFORD, Ill. -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp’s injury Tuesday could present an NHL opportunity for someone within the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.
The Blackhawks would be down to 11 forwards if Sharp has to miss any time due to the lower-body injury he suffered against the Montreal Canadiens. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sharp would be out a “bit” after the game. Players’ injuries have often lasted at least a few weeks when Quenneville has used those same words before.
If the Blackhawks do need a forward, IceHogs coach Ted Dent said he has a number of them ready for that jump. The IceHogs extended their winning streak to six games by rallying from a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Lake Erie Monsters 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday.
“They control what they control here,” Dent said of his players after the game. “Some of the guys have been playing really well. If there’s a need for a call-up or a spark in Chicago, then I think there’s a few guys waiting in the wings who are ready.”
Some of those possibilities performed well on Tuesday.
Mark McNeil scored two goals in Tuesday’s victory and has five points in the past three games. He leads the IceHogs with five goals and is tied for first with 10 points. He has yet to play in the NHL.
“That’s management’s decision,” McNeill said after Tuesday's game. “That’s something that’s out of my control. I just got to keep working hard and working towards that opportunity up top. ... I’m hungry. I want it for sure. Like I said, that’s not my call.”
Peter Regin had a similar answer. Regin, who re-signed with the Blackhawks in the offseason, had expected to remain in the NHL out of the training camp but was assigned to the IceHogs. He has made the most of it and has 10 points in 11 games. He scored the final two goals in Tuesday's victory. He played in 22 total games for the Blackhawks last season.
“We’re 22 guys here who are hoping to get that call,” Regin said. “It’s the same with me. That hasn’t changed. Like I said, I’m just trying to take it day by day here and to help this team out and do the best I can every day in practices and in games.
“If I get the call, I’ll be happy and I’ll do the best I can up there. Like I said, that’s out of my hands. That’s out of my control. The only thing I can control is how I play here, and I thought it’s been going pretty well, actually. Hopefully, I’m in the mix anyway.”
Phillip Danault and Garret Ross are two other forwards who have played well for the IceHogs this season. Ross had a hat trick recently and had three assists on Tuesday. Both players are tied for third on the team with eight points. Neither player has appeared in an NHL game.
“It’s tough to say,” Danault said. “We don’t know what they’re thinking. We just stay focused here. Obviously, it’s our dream to be called up as soon as possible. Chicago is the best team to know when we’re ready. They can see that through us for sure.”
One NHL call-up possibility who did not play on Tuesday was Teuvo Teravainen. He sat out Tuesday’s game due to the flu. He is considered the organization’s top prospect and is thought to have the potential to be a top-six forward. He has one goal and six assists in 10 games for the IceHogs this season.
Teravainen wasn’t available after the game, but he spoke earlier in the day about staying prepared for an NHL opportunity. He played in three NHL games last season.
“I really think I can play in that league right now,” Teravainen said after the IceHogs’ morning skate on Tuesday. “I try to wait for my chance. If I get my chance, I try to play my best.”