By Adam Hess
The Blackhawks made waves Monday morning when they recalled prized youngster Marko Dano from AHL Rockford and assigned often-ailed forward Bryan Bickell to the affiliate club. Dano, you’ll remember, was the prize of Chicago’s late June trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets that saw young stud Brandon Saad sent out of the Windy City.
The swap of the two forwards comes only 11 games later than it really should have, as Dano was probably better served to start the season in the Four Feathers rather than the Red Pig sweater. Bickell, meanwhile, did nothing but struggle in the early goings of the season, and found himself in the press box all too often for a player earning $4-million. But the Blackhawks wanted Dano to develop some familiarity with their system of play, and felt a desire to see if Bickell could prove he was worth his lofty price tag. Dano did his job; Bickell didn’t. The swap was all too easy for Stan Bowman to make.
Dano immediately assumed Bickell’s place in the lineup, finding himself on the same line that Bickell was on during the practices before the move. He played Joel Quenneville’s third line, reunited with two other Rockford products in Ryan Hartman and Tanner Kero, who was actually his center with the Hogs.
Unfortunately, not very much went well for that line during Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The trio were the bottom three Blackhawks in Corsi For, which measures all shot attempts while a player is on the ice. Kero, Dano, and Hartman were all -4, -5, and -6, respectfully in individual Corsi on Monday, meaning that while they were on the ice, the Kings attempted 4, 5, and 6 more shots than the Blackhawks.
However, for a line of three young players with extremely limited NHL experience, a performance like that isn’t exactly shocking, and there were still some encouragements that came from their performance.
The chemistry that exists between Dano and Kero was evident at times, and Hartman and Dano each were able to generate a good scoring chance. While they didn’t find the scoresheet at all, the ability of the three young players was evident, particularly from Dano and Kero.
It may not have gone exactly as planned, as the trio found themselves chasing the game for much of the night, but at the end of the day the Blackhawks won a very important matchup in which they played well for most of the game. There were some promising things to take note of from Marko Dano’s first game as a Blackhawk, and in truth, it’s only the start of what is likely to be a long and successful career.