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updated: 3/13/2014 9:05 PM

Could be time for Hawks' offense to get a boost

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  • Teuvo Teravainen, a winger from Finland, pulls on a Blackhawks cap after being chosen 18th overall in the first round of the NHL draft in 2012.

      Teuvo Teravainen, a winger from Finland, pulls on a Blackhawks cap after being chosen 18th overall in the first round of the NHL draft in 2012.
    Associated Press File/June 2012

 
 

With the Blackhawks now looking up at two teams in the Central Division and with an offense that is stagnant, the timing couldn't be better to bring Teuvo Teravainen here from Finland.

It could happen as soon as next week.

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Teravainen could center the second line for Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, leaving Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa to skate with Jonathan Toews on the first line.

"I'm expecting him to come here when his season's done," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said the other day. "We'll see after that."

Teravainen's season with Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League, Liiga, could end as soon as Sunday. The 19-year-old, drafted by the Hawks in the first round in 2012, signed an entry-level deal in August.

This could be the first significant step in the Hawks getting their lines in order for the playoffs, where it appears that Colorado will be waiting in the first round.

That's as difficult a matchup as the Hawks could expect in Round 1. By losing 3-2 at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday it left the Hawks 1-3-1 against the Avs this season.

"They're a good team; we know that they play us hard," Sharp said. "That's looking a little far ahead to (call it) a playoff matchup. Right now, we need to focus on what's going to make us a successful team and apply that."

"Maybe we can learn our lesson that these games aren't going to get any easier," Toews said. "It's time to play hard. It's time to play playoff-style hockey if we want to win games."

Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said on March 1 that Teravainen's arrival depended on his season in Finland being done and him not playing for Finland in the World Championship in Belarus in May. According to ESPNChicago.com, Finland is expected to give Teravainen its blessing to play for the Hawks in the playoffs.

"I don't know how that works, but I would think he would come here," Quenneville said.

Jokerit is the seventh seed in the Liiga and starts its best-of-three playoff series Saturday. Jokerit's season could be finished as early as Sunday.

Teravainen helped Finland to the gold medal in the World Junior Championship in January by scoring 15 points in seven games. Since returning to Jokerit after the tournament, he has registered points in 17 of 19 games and had 26 points during that span.

Teravainen appeared in two preseason games with the Hawks and played well. Bowman said Teravained has improved since he left Chicago.

"I think when he left here in October, he had a little bit of a slow start," Bowman said. "He had missed some games while he was in training camp with us. It took him a little bit to get going. I think he started playing well in December, and ever since the world junior tournament he's been dominating."

Bowman said on March 1 that if Teravainen joined the Hawks this season he wouldn't be asked to play a major role. Things have changed, however.

"So I think the nice thing for us with Teuvo is we don't need to rely on him, even if he does come over," Bowman said. "He's not going to be the focal point of our team. I think at that age you have to be careful you don't put your expectations too high. He's just going to be another player if he comes in.

"But he certainly has the talent to be able to play with high-end players here. We're not counting on anything, but if it works out it would be a great addition."

The Hawks' third line continues to be an issue, particularly the play of Bryan Bickell.

A third line of Michal Handzus, Bickell and Andrew Shaw would be ideal for starters unless Kris Versteeg fits in there somehow. Bickell got 10:39 of ice time Wednesday and was minus-1. He simply needs to be better, more physical and more involved.

• Follow Tim's Blackhawks and hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone.

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