DETROIT — As impressive as Ben Smith was in Wednesday’s win over St. Louis, the rookie winger followed it up by scoring his first NHL goal in the Blackhawks’ 4-2 win over the Red Wings on Friday.
“His positioning, he’s in the right spot and his instincts are high end,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He can play and make plays and defensively he’s usually in the right spot.
“We think he’s a very handy player and a useful guy.”
Smith, the 169th player taken in the 2008 draft out of Boston College, could be exactly what the Hawks have needed — a gritty, energy-type forward who can also put the puck in the net.
“He works so hard and you can tell he’s got a great sense for the game out there,” Jonathan Toews said. “He’s not one of those guys who’s just happy to be here. He wants to win and come in here and have a positive effect on the team.
“You saw him take the puck to the net with confidence and handling the puck and protecting it. I think it’s a sign he can be a force in this league, not only right now, but he’s only going to get better. He’s not the biggest guy out there, but he’s strong and he’s feisty.”
Smith has earned a chance on the second line with Michael Frolik and Patrick Kane. He scored from in front at 6:07 of the first period to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
“It’s exciting, you know,” Smith said. “I’m just trying to help the team and do all I can to help this team move on and succeed. Patrick Kane made a great play, just stripping the puck there. It was right to me and I just tried to get it off fast.”
Bolland on the ice:
Getting checking center Dave Bolland back for the playoffs would be huge for the Hawks.
There was finally some encouraging news Friday when Bolland skated in Chicago for the first time since he suffered a concussion almost a month ago.
“He’s progressing at a different pace than we saw before, which is encouraging,” Joel Quenneville said. “He has really progressed the last couple of days. The fact that he is on the ice, he’s turned the corner.”
Bolland, who has been able to ride the stationary bike for the last several days, still would need to be cleared to practice with contact before playing.
Quenneville wouldn’t rule out possibly having Bolland back for the start of the playoffs.
“The fact that he’s on the ice gives you signs that it could happen,” Quenneville said. “While there wasn’t a lot of hope a little while ago, the picture changed.”
Tip-ins: Marcus Kruger was a healthy scratch for the second straight game on Friday. ... Troy Brouwer (shoulder) is day-to-day, according to Quenneville, who said the winger could be back on the ice soon. ... The Hawks went 1-for-1 on the power play, with Marian Hossa scoring, snapping an 0-for-11 drought.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.