Coach Q likes what Kostka brings to Hawks
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Mike Kostka was a better fit on defense than Ryan Stanton because “offensively he really complements our style of play.”
Kostka won the eighth job on defense over Stanton, who was waived and claimed by the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
“He’s one of those defensemen who is useful as far as both sides of the puck,” Quenneville said of Kostka. “He can give us some nice offense from the back end and is versatile and can defend well. He’s very handy with the puck.
“Last year for the majority of the season (in Toronto), he was playing against the other team’s top lines and handled it very well.”
Kostka, who appeared in 35 games for the Maple Leafs, feels the free agent gamble to come to a championship team with what appeared to be a set defense paid off.
“Coming into it I was hoping to put my best foot forward, and I think I did,” Kostka said. “Of all the places I didn’t think this was going to be one of them, but I’m thrilled they gave me the opportunity.
“The one thing that really was attractive here is that it’s a puck moving team. They’ve got awesome forwards, where it’s basically just get them the puck and get into the play. That’s the style I like to play.
“In Toronto, it was more of a defensive-minded team so it’s a breath of fresh air coming here. I feel like I jell a little more with the style of play than in a shutdown role.”
Kostka joins a defense that allowed the fewest goals in the NHL last season and has everybody back from the top seven.
“We’ve got good defensemen back there,” Duncan Keith said. “I think it’s the backbone of our team and the key to our whole team and success.”
Long shot makes it:Swede Joakim Nordstrom also made the team as the fourth-line right wing and will kill penalties with Marcus Kruger in Michael Frolik#146;s old role.#147;I think I played consistent in all the games and played good defensively and played good, smart hockey,#148; Nordstrom said. #147;I don#146;t think I was a long shot, but I knew there was an opportunity that I could make the team and I knew what I had to do.#148;Joel Quenneville said Nordstrom was noticeable from the first day at Notre Dame.#147;Nordstrom came in and had an excellent camp in that role we were trying to fill with Frolik,#148; said Quenneville. #147;At the start of camp I don#146;t know if he was on the radar at that time, but watching his speed and quickness from the first day on the ice there at Notre Dame you noticed him.#147;You notice his instincts and he can play all three forward positions, which is important for us. You don#146;t want to get targeted as a defensive player, but hopefully he can start at that and progress and add offense to his game. Certainly he#146;s going to get a chance to kill penalties for us, and hopefully he evolves the way Kruger did.#148;All systems go:Joel Quenneville said everyone is healthy for Tuesday#146;s opener and that includes Marian Hossa, Corey Crawford, Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival.Blackhawks game dayBlackhawks vs. Washington Capitals at the United Center, 7 p.m.TV: Comcast SportsNetRadio: WGN-AM 720The skinny: The Capitals can be dangerous offensively led by three-time MVP Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. They were tied for fourth in the league last year in average goals scored per game at 3.04. Corey Crawford starts in goal for the Hawks.Next: Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center, 7 p.m. Saturday.— Tim Sassone