Motte shows Blackhawks he has Shaw-like grit, game
Many Blackhawks fans have had a tough time reconciling with the fact that Andrew Shaw is no longer playing in Chicago.
Well, don't look now, but a younger version is turning heads this preseason and may just infuse the team with the same grit, grime, fight and scoring ability at a far, far cheaper price.
That player is none other than Tyler Motte, a 5-foot-9, 192-pound firecracker who scored 2 goals Saturday night against the Blues in a 4-0 preseason victory at the United Center.
"He's special. He did a lot of good things," coach Joel Quenneville said.
Motte scored his first goal in typical Shaw fashion, by being in front of the net at the perfect time and slapping a loose puck out of the air past goalie Carter Hutton with 28 seconds left in the second period.
Motte then won a board battle with seven-year veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and flashed the speed and skill that has been on display the past two games when he raced down ice and buried a wrister past Hutton with 39 seconds to go in the game.
"Seems like he doesn't mind playing a grinding type of game, but has ability to finish too," said Patrick Kane. "Great game for him tonight."
Motte's strong play earned him an in-game promotion from the third line to the second as he replaced Nick Schmaltz and skated with Kane and Artem Anisimov.
Motte, who proved he can score last season when he finished second in the NCAA with 32 goals in his third season with Michigan, also is an accomplished penalty killer. He has logged 4:10 of ice time on the PK thus far, with 2:11 coming Saturday.
"I love killing penalties," said Motte, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL draft. "Krugs (Marcus Kruger) made it easy on me tonight, talking a lot out there. … It's good to chip in that way. I'm sure I can help the team out moving forward."
Teammates and coaches have also noticed how difficult it is for opponents to separate Motte from the puck and also how responsible he is on both ends of the ice.
Last week we asked if Motte believed his game is NHL ready, to which he responded: "Yeah, I think so. That was the big reason to make the step from school to here, is to relish the opportunity, challenge myself and make that leap.
"And I think my game is responsible enough to play, and the offensive ability and things will come with that."
One player who stood out to Joel Quenneville on Friday in Pittsburgh and Saturday against the Blues was 20-year-old defenseman Gustav Forsling.
"He immediately impressed me (with) his poise, his patience, his play recognition," Quenneville said Saturday morning.
Forsling faces a numbers game, though, and may have to start the season in Sweden.
Said Quenneville: "We like the upside he brings and potentially -- once he shows he's a regular -- he's only going to get better off that."
The Blackhawks assigned forwards Tanner Kero, Luke Johnson, Martin Lundberg, defensemen Ville Pokka, Erik Gustafsson, Robin Norell and goalie Lars Johansson to Rockford on Monday. They also released Jake Dowell and Chris DeSousa from their tryout agreements. The Hawks roster now has 20 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goalies.
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