CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Joakim Nordstrom wants to put his recent two-game suspension behind him, but he does believe there was a lesson to be learned.
Nordstrom recently served a two-game suspension after he illegally hit the Arizona Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson into the boards in the final minute of the third period in a game on March 12. Nordstrom received a penalty in the game and was suspended the following game. Ekman-Larsson was injured on the play and had to leave, but he returned for the Coyotes’ next contest.
“Obviously, it was a dirty hit,” Nordstrom said after practice Friday. “There’s nothing I can do about it now. I respect the decision by the league and stand behind it. I put everything with that in the past. It’s behind me. My focus is just I’m here and moving forward and helping the team winning games.
“Obviously, I have to be a little more careful. Just looking at the replay there, he was a little too far from the boards. It was an accident, but I could have been a more careful, too. … I’m happy that Oliver came back as soon as he did, that he wasn’t more hurt than he could have been.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn’t want the suspension to affect Nordstrom’s aggressive style. Nordstrom has 67 hits in 32 games this season. Quenneville didn’t think the Blackhawks had to worry about Nordstrom having a tendency to be a dirty player.
“It’s one of those things you don’t want to stop how you play,” Quenneville said. “It’s one of those pushes in a real tight area that you want to make sure you’re hard to play against. We tell them to go through the puck area. Late in the game, it’s like you’re doing what you think have to do. You don’t want to bring hesitation into that type of situation.
“Certain guys got to find how to keep themselves on the right side of that line, and there’s balance there. But we want him to play hard and be a physical player, and learning how to monitor that as we go along will be a work in progress. I don’t foresee that being an issue.”
Nordstrom was reinserted into the lineup against the New York Rangers on Wednesday after being suspended the previous two games. Nordstrom has played on the fourth line and has been on the penalty kill in recent weeks. He has two assists and has averaged 10:46 of ice time this season.
Nordstrom appeared in 16 regular-season games and seven playoff games last season. He’s hopeful to remain in the lineup throughout the team’s playoff run this season. He thought last season’s experiences would help him.
“Just playoff hockey compared to the regular-season hockey is so much different,” Nordstrom said. “Getting a lick of it last year is definitely going to help me if I get to play in the playoffs this season.”