Michal Handzus sparkles on second line
By Mark Lazerus email@example.com April 26, 2013 11:00PM
Updated: May 29, 2013 8:03AM
Before Michal Handzus fired a perfect stretch pass — blue line to blue line — right on the tape of a streaking Patrick Kane for a breakaway goal in the second period Wednesday night in Edmonton, Handzus took the puck right off of an onrushing Taylor Hall’s stick.
He also might have taken Dave Bolland’s job in the process.
With Bolland out with a groin injury, Handzus split time with rookie Drew LeBlanc as the Blackhawks’ second-line center in Edmonton, skating between Patrick Sharp and Kane.
Coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw.
“Last game we found out on the trial situation that Handzus played pretty good with those guys, and it gives us another option as we go along here,” Quenneville said “Sometimes you find things out, sometimes it works over the short term, and sometimes hopefully it goes a little longer. On a need basis, guys take advantage of opportunities.”
Handzus, 36, a 14-year veteran, mostly had played with the third and fourth lines since he was acquired from San Jose on April 1, before the trade deadline. After posting one goal and one assist in 28 games with the Sharks, he’s got a goal and five assists in 10 games with the Hawks. He’s also won 57.3 percent of his faceoffs (Bolland has won 46.1 percent of his draws this season).
Bolland has played in 35 games, dealing with various injuries. Sharp will play in his 28th game Friday night against Calgary.
“We’ve had our fair share of injuries it seems like on that line this year,” Kane said. “I thought myself, Handzus and Sharp played really well the other night together, and had some chemistry. So hopefully we can do that again tonight.”
And possibly beyond. Bolland —who made his name as a third-line irritant, particularly in postseason play — has struggled at times on the second line, especially after Sharp suffered his shoulder injury on March 6. He’s got seven goals and seven assists but a minus-7 rating (the only Hawks regular who’s a minus).