Don't rule out Brandon Pirri as the Blackhawks' No. 2 center just yet.
Presently the center on the fourth line, Pirri has 2 goals in the last two games and is showing the confidence to take his game to another level.
"I'm just taking it day by day," Pirri said. "You can't control that stuff. If I play my game and keep getting the bounces things will happen."
Pirri came to training camp as one of the candidates for the No. 2 center job but got hurt early and appeared in only two preseason games. The lower body injury forced the Hawks to send him to Rockford, but he was brought back quickly.
With the offense struggling, Pirri could turn into a key guy quickly.
"I think that's basically the plan, work his way up knowing that we feel he can be that type of guy that can play top minutes with top guys," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think it's going to take him some time, but I'm not discounting the opportunity."
Pirri has got just the right amount of cockiness that could work in his favor.
"Pirri's been good," Quenneville said. "Unfortunately, he got hurt there during camp, but he had a good start to camp and finished strong.
"I think all these guys that are pushing for that opportunity here haven't really hurt themselves in any fashion. It was nice to see him score because he's got a nice shot and can produce. ... But I think the other part of the game is what we're looking at and I think he's been OK."
The "other part of the game" is being responsible defensively, which comes first and foremost in Quenneville's system.
"I've been working on that," Pirri said. "Not playing a lot in training camp was tough, but I knew if I stayed positive and worked hard down there (at Rockford) I'd get another opportunity. I think everyone in Rockford is disappointed because it's everyone's dream to play here."
The Hawks are scoring just enough goals to win. They haven't scored a goal in seven straight third periods, yet still are 5-1-2 after eight games.
"We're generating a few chances some games and haven't capitalized, but maybe it's just guys wanting to get off to that good start offensively," Patrick Sharp said. "I don't doubt our team's ability to score goals, but the most important thing is how we play 5-on-5 and keep it out of our net. So far this year we've done a good job of that."
Jonathan Toews agrees with Sharp and said there is no concern about the lack of goals.
"We've got a lot of talent in this locker room and nothing's going to change there," Toews said. "Scoring just comes from confidence and comes from getting the result that you want and seeing the puck go in.
"When that happens you kind of build off it. Scoring a goal in a game you definitely feel the energy the shift after and you feel like you can play loose and let things happen. When that starts to happen a little more naturally I think the rest of our game will come along too."
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