Michael Frolik looming large as Blackhawks’ utilityman
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org April 4, 2013 10:17PM
Hawks winger Michael Frolik is sent to the ice from a hit by Blues defenseman Barret Jackman in the first period of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues NHL game Thursday April 4, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 5, 2013 12:07AM
One of the keys to the Blackhawks’ success this season has been the consistency of their lines. One of the keys to that consistency has been Michael Frolik, whose ability to play just about any role has allowed Joel Quenneville to slot him just about anywhere, without having to blow up the lines and start from scratch.
Frolik started the season as a penalty-killing fourth-liner, playing right wing. Then he dabbled at center when Marcus Kruger filled in for an injured Dave Bolland on the second line. Frolik then moved to right wing on the top line when Marian Hossa was injured. With Hossa returning for Thursday’s game against the Blues, and with Patrick Sharp still out, Frolik played left wing on the second line with Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane.
Think of Frolik as the Hawks’ utilityman.
“It’s a good thing for me,” Frolik said. “They can move me around and I can play on both sides, and I think it’s good for a player if you’re not stuck in just one spot and you can play everything. I like the opportunity, and I’ll try to grab it.
Frolik was mired in a 27-game goal-scoring drought when he got bumped up to the top line alongside Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad on March 25. He posted two goals and an assist that night against the Kings, and added an assist against Detroit last Sunday. The two-time 21-goal scorer and former top-10 draft pick of the Florida Panthers said it was good to “get the monkey off the back,” and welcomed the chance to play with Kane and Bolland.
The feeling was mutual.
“He’s been playing great with Johnny and Brandon on the first line while Hoss was out,” Kane said. “I thought he fit in real well. He’s very talented, and when you look at him off the ice, on the ice, at practice, he’s probably one of our hardest workers. I think with him, just try and get him the confidence to keep playing the way he’s been playing, and I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
Frolik, whose preferred spot as a left-handed shot is on the right wing, said just getting all these opportunities has given him that confidence. And the next time a hole needs to be filled — no matter what line, no matter what position — Frolik might just be Quenneville’s guy.
“His game’s been very consistent,” Quenneville said. “He has some versatility … and he’s been useful.”