Scratched Kruger needs more time to adjust
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com April 9, 2011 12:02AM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
DETROIT — Blackhawks rookie center Marcus Kruger said he felt like any other player would when taken out of the lineup.
He felt discouraged.
“Of course, I want to play,” Kruger said Friday after the Hawks’ morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “I have to work hard and do what I can to make it to the lineup again.”
Kruger was scratched for the second consecutive game against the Detroit Red Wings. Coach Joel Quenneville said Kruger, who was praised often for his hockey sense and defensive abilities when he was first brought in from Sweden on March 23, still has things to grasp.
“I really liked the way he played his first three games,” Quenneville said. “Whether it was the pace [or] strength or whether it was understanding how we have to play, I think there are [differences from the Swedish Elite League]. We’d like to play more of a pressure type of game.”
Marian Hossa made similar comments Wednesday when asked about playing with Kruger, saying, “He needs some time to adjust.”
The Hawks always have thought highly of Kruger, and it may have been hard to live up to those expectations, even if the plan was to bring him in when his season ended in Sweden.
Kruger was thrust into a tough situation with center Dave Bolland out with a concussion and the Hawks in a fight for a playoff spot.
Still, high hopes remain for Kruger. Hossa and Quenneville said they believe he’ll adapt with time and become a quality player.
“I think he’ll grasp [it] as we go along here,” Quenneville said. “We still think he’s going to be useful for us. We still like a lot of things.”
Kruger, who predicted there would be an initial adjustment, said it was encouraging to hear compliments from Quenneville and his teammates.
“They know what it’s all about,’’ Kruger said. ‘‘So, of course, that’s fun to hear.
‘‘I have to learn more and learn about [the style of] play. I think I learn every day. Just being out there and practicing with those guys is big for my development. I just try to do good every chance I get on the ice.”
A better Bolland
Bolland skated for the first time Friday in Chicago while the team was in Detroit since suffering his concussion March 9 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“[Bolland] is progressing at a different pace than we saw before, which is encouraging,” Quenneville said.
While it’s very unlikely that Bolland will play Sunday against the Red Wings at the United Center, it’s still positive news for the Hawks, especially if they make the playoffs.
It will take Bolland, who has been doing off-ice conditioning, some time to catch up to game speed, especially after more than a month. But the Hawks have struggled to fill his role since his injury.
Winger Tomas Kopecky left the game Friday with 8:26 left in the third period after taking Viktor Stalberg’s tipped shot off his left ear.
◆ Winger Troy Brouwer (shoulder) is still listed as day-to-day but could return to the ice soon, Quenneville said.
◆ Ryan Johnson (700th game) and Bryan Bickell (100th game) reached NHL milestones Friday.