Andrew Brunette highlights Blackhawks’ depth
By Adam L. Jahns firstname.lastname@example.org November 27, 2011 9:20PM
Andrew Brunette has been doing a great job on a line with center Dave Bolland (36). | Gus Ruelas~AP
Updated: December 29, 2011 8:12AM
Few teams have the luxury of using a player with a résumé similar to Andrew Brunette’s on their third line and second power-play unit. But the Blackhawks are able to reap the benefits.
It’s evidence of the Hawks’ improved depth and a sign of Brunette’s willingness to help out in any situation.
“I’ve been bounced around all over the place, but I just try to play my game,” Brunette told the Sun-Times. “It’s whatever I can do to help the team. I’m just happy to be in a position where we’re one of the top teams in the league right now. We’ll continue to build on that, and whatever the role, I’ll play.”
Being part of Dave Bolland’s line usually means getting tough defensive assignments, while also playing less than when among the top-six forwards. But it also means using offense to negate offensive players.
Brunette, who has scored 261 goals over his 16-year career, has done well recently with Bolland as coach Joel Quenneville searches for the right combinations among his bottom-six forwards. Brunette scored his first non-power-play goal of the season against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. He did it with Bolland creating problems around goalie Jonathan Quick and some of the Kings’ best forwards — Anze Kopitar, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams — on the ice.
“[Bolland] can be a top-two-line center anywhere in the league,” Brunette said.
Similar things can be said about Brunette, who has 10 points. He would be the first to tell you he had a slow start, failing to get results with Jonathan Toews and others despite good looks. He was dropped to the fourth line and eventually moved up to the third as Quenneville altered his bottom two lines often.
“Obviously, you expect an adjustment,” said Brunette, who also found chemistry with Marcus Kruger. “I feel as I start to get more adjusted and up to speed as we go along here, my game will start to elevate.”
Quenneville already thinks it has. Not only has he been better at even strength, but Brunette’s experience and good hands have been a key component to the recent success of the second power-play unit. He leads the Hawks with four power-play goals.
“His play has been very good,” Quenneville said. “He really gives that second power-play unit a nice look to it. It seems like there are a lot of plays around the net that he seems to relish and recognize. It’s one of his strengths.
“You’re seeing a lot more as he’s progressing here. He’ll get more and more comfortable with his surroundings and his linemates as well. [Brunette] is useful in a lot of ways. I think he had a slow beginning, but he’s up to speed now.”