Blackhawks don’t see second line as Marcus Kruger’s specialty
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 14, 2014 10:01PM
Nick Leddy, Ryan O'Reilly, Corey Crawford
Updated: January 15, 2014 11:05AM
Marcus Kruger made no secret he’d love to play in a more offensive role and get a chance to play major minutes on a line with somebody such as Patrick Kane.
But Kruger’s latest audition at second-line center lasted one game before he found himself back in his usual spot on the Blackhawks’ fourth line.
‘‘It’s how it is,’’ he said. ‘‘If they want me to play there, I’ll play there. If they want me to play on the other line, I’ll play there as well. There’s not much you can do. You just try to work hard.’’
With Michal Handzus’ struggles contributing to Kane’s brief slump, coach Joel Quenneville decided to give Kruger a shot on the second line. But by the end of Saturday’s game in Montreal, Kane already was skating a couple of shifts with Andrew Shaw. And on Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers, Kruger was back between Brandon Bollig and Ben Smith while Shaw was on the second line, where he played again Tuesday.
Quenneville said Kruger has carved out a nice role as a checking-line player and a penalty killer and that he’s comfortable with him there.
‘‘When he gets in that [second-line] role up there in that short-term audition, I think he gives us what we’re looking for,’’ Quennevlle said. ‘‘But we value what he brings on that [fourth] line, whether it’s a checking responsibility or the safety look that he gives us. That’s kind of the niche we have for him.’’
And while Kruger would love a high-profile role and to play 20 minutes a night, he knows only one thing matters: The Hawks lost Saturday, and they won Sunday.