Michael Frolik provides spark for Hawks
By Adam L. Jahns firstname.lastname@example.org December 14, 2011 9:56PM
Jonathan Toews gets checked along the boards by the Wild’s Mikko Koivu (9) during the Blackhawks’ 4-3 victory. | Hannah Foslien~Getty Images
Updated: January 16, 2012 10:37AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Michael Frolik felt down on his luck.
Frolik was thrilled that the Blackhawks were winning, but with two of his four goals through the first 30 games being empty-netters, the forward was disappointed he wasn’t providing more.
“With [Frolik] coming off that [shoulder] injury [in November], he hasn’t been at that pace where he started the season and finished [last year],” coach Joel Quenneville said. “When he has a lot of speed and quickness to his game, he gets more openings and he gets more looks in good quality positions. With that pace to his game, the offense will come together.”
Frolik was in great position Wednesday against the Minnesota Wild when he was on the receiving end of a beautiful pass from Marcus Kruger for his fifth goal.
The Hawks can definitely use that production from Frolik, who had two 21-goal seasons with the Florida Panthers, to alleviate some pressure on their top players.
So there’s hope that Wednesday’s goal will spark Frolik, who had dropped down to the fourth line.
“I think he’ll take any kind,” Quenneville said. “Anybody loves to score, and you get a little bit of a jolt and confidence after that.”
Enforcer John Scott was the Hawks’ sixth defenseman Wednesday, replacing Sami Lepisto in the lineup. Sean O’Donnell also was scratched.
Quenneville said he wants to rotate Scott, Lepisto and O’Donnell in and out of the lineup.
“We get a chance to keep everybody in the game,” Quenneville said. “I know it’s not easy playing limited minutes or limited games, and the focus is on you in those types of situations. But it’s important we keep them all going as well.”
Lepisto played the previous two games, but has been a healthy scratch in 21 of the Hawks’ 31 games. Quenneville commended him for his game against the New York Islanders, but felt he took a step back against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
Lepisto thought he played an “awful” first period against the Sharks, but he remains confident.
“I’m here to play,” said Lepisto, who has a plus-4 rating. “I’m not here to eat popcorn. Of course, I want to make the team better, and I know I can.”
Defenseman Nick Leddy played his second career game in his home state of Minnesota. Winger Andrew Brunette played his first against the Wild as a member of the Hawks. Brunette spent six of the last nine seasons with the Wild.