Hawks must try to slow high-scoring Stamkos
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First it was Alex Ovechkin. Now it's Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos coming to town for the Blackhawks to try and contain.
Stamkos, a former 60-goal scorer, had 29 in last year's shortened 48-game season as part of the NHL's third-best offense.
The Hawks and Lightning play Saturday night at the United Center.
"Definitely, when guys like that are on the ice you're aware of it," Hawks goalie Corey Crawford said. "You have to be aware that they're out there. They have a couple of guys who score."
Martin St. Louis, last season's NHL scoring champion, would be the other. Stamkos and St. Louis give Tampa Bay a power play the Hawks must be concerned about.
The Capitals scored 3 power-play goals against the Hawks in Tuesday's opener.
"Comparable," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said when asked if stopping Stamkos was similar to stopping Ovechkin. "They have a real good power play and it's going to be something that is a big threat for us to be concerned with and a weapon for them.
"(Stamkos) is top scorer, he's dangerous and they feed him. He's got the great one-timer where he can pound it and load it up. We've got to do a better job of staying out of the box because he's a key weapon."
It was hardly the kind of debut rookie right wing Joakim Nordstrom hoped for Tuesday. He was on the ice for 2 of Washington's 3 power-play goals.
"I didn't mind his 5-on-5 game," Quenneville said. "I thought he did a lot of good things. Penalty killing, we can all assume some responsibility for what went on. Maybe we were a little too deliberate in our thinking and positioning. It was his first game, too. I didn't mind his game. It's early too and he's only going to get better."
Ben Smith will get his chance at right wing on the third line Saturday against Tampa Bay.
It figures to be a back-and-forth platoon situation most of the season between Smith and Jimmy Hayes.
"It's part of the sport, part of the job," Smith said. "You're always competing against a lot of guys. It's not going to be just training camp. As I said during camp, it's going to continue well on during the year and you just have to play your best every day and hope the opportunities keep coming."
Joel Quenneville would like to get all 23 of his players into a game sooner than later.
"We want to get everybody in here the next few games before we get too far into the season," Quenneville said. "It's just a matter of time before we get everybody in. They're all part of it."
With Smith getting his first opportunity to play, it would leave only defensemen Sheldon Brookbank and Mike Kostka and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to appear in their first games.
Getting their rest:
After Saturday, the Hawks don't play again until Wednesday's early-season showdown with the Blues in St. Louis.
"I'd rather play and take the rest later in the season," Patrick Sharp said. "But it gives us an opportunity to practice, so that's a positive. We can get out there and implement our system with Joel (Quenneville). The guys who have been here understand it, but we've got a number of new players. You take the schedule for what it is and adjust accordingly."
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