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Article updated: 11/1/2013 6:31 PM

Pirri's skills, hard work gain attention

Patrick Sharp, right, says he's impressed with the skills of center Brandon Pirri (37), who will start on the second line against Winnipeg on Saturday.

Patrick Sharp, right, says he's impressed with the skills of center Brandon Pirri (37), who will start on the second line against Winnipeg on Saturday.

 

Associated Press/file

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Center Brandon Pirri's teammates are in full support of him getting more minutes on the second line.

Pirri will start Saturday's game at Winnipeg in the middle on the second line between Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad.

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Blackhawks game day

Blackhawks vs. Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre, 2 p.m. Saturday
TV: Channel 9
Radio: WGN-AM 720
The skinny: Corey Crawford starts in goal for the Hawks, but all eyes will be on local hero Jonathan Toews, who plays his first regular-season game in his hometown against the team he grew up rooting for. The Jets have lost two in a row and are 5-7-2. They are missing defenseman Jacob Trouba, who is on injured reserve with a neck injury. Neither Michal Handzus nor Craig Mills made the trip for the Hawks because of injuries.
Next: Calgary Flames at the United Center, 6 p.m. Sunday.
-- Tim Sassone

"Pirri is really good," Kane said. "He wants to be here and he's up for the challenge. Hopefully they give him a pretty good shot because I think he's a good player and can do that job.

"He's a hard worker and I'm sure he's trying to do whatever he can to stick. I'm sure when you get an opportunity like this you want to make sure everything goes right. It's going to take some time to develop some chemistry, but I think he has played real well."

So does Patrick Sharp, even though Sharp and Pirri are no longer linemates. Sharp has been playing with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa on the top line.

"Well, you don't lead a league in scoring by accident," said Sharp, referring to Pirri leading the American Hockey League in scoring last season. "You can tell he's got great offensive instincts. He's got an unbelievable wrist shot that you see in some of the games and in practice every day.

"That's the biggest thing, going from the American League to the NHL is learning to play away from the puck. It's something I had to do, it's something every player really has to deal with their first few games, so I like the way he's playing and I know the coaches are happy with him. Let's hope it turns out well."

Wait and see:

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't commit to a goalie beyond Saturday's game at Winnipeg.

Corey Crawford gets the start against the Jets with Quenneville leaving it open for Sunday's game back home against Calgary.

Normally, Nikolai Khabibulin would get the start no questions asked, but he is coming off two shaky appearances.

Familiar face:

The Hawks get their first look Saturday at Michael Frolik, who they are still trying to replace as a penalty killer at forward.

"It's been an area of concern right from the outset of our season," Joel Quenneville said. "We felt the way Fro grabbed it last year and just took off with it, it's there for somebody to grab. We're still a work in progress and we'll see how it develops, but he did an excellent job for us last year and was a key factor in our success."

Scary sight:

Joel Quenneville said several trick or treaters showed up at his house on Halloween dressed as Coach Q.

"There was a little girl, and she was Coach Q, and she had the Stanley Cup over her head," Quenneville said. "It was classic. I was pretty impressed."

Let it grow:

Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Brandon Bollig and Niklas Hjalmarsson will grow mustaches throughout the month of November in support of Movember, an annual monthlong event that focuses on raising awareness and funds to fight prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges.

Fans can donate to or join the Hawks' Movember team by visiting the club's Movember page on its website. Donations can also be made to the individual player pages.

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