Chicago Sun-Times - - SKY BEAT - Ben Pope

On Dec. 29 of this sea­son, rookie cen­ter Kirby Dach played 20 min­utes, 32 sec­onds in the Black­hawks’ 3-2 shootout vic­tory against the Blue Jack­ets.

Head­ing into his first play­off run this sum­mer, that was the most ice time Dach had seen in an NHL game.

And then in Game 3 on Wed­nes­day against the Oil­ers in Ed­mon­ton, coach Jeremy Col­li­ton united Dach with wings Pa­trick Kane and Alex De­Brin­cat and sent them out for shift af­ter shift af­ter shift.

Dach ended up lead­ing all Hawks for­wards with a whop­ping 23 min­utes, 21 sec­onds of ice time, shat­ter­ing his pre­vi­ous high from that game against the Blue Jack­ets. He fol­lowed that up with 19 min­utes, 24 sec­onds Fri­day.

‘‘We just thought Kirby and Alex were re­ally good in Game 2, and we’re just try­ing to be flex­i­ble with our lines and play the guys who are go­ing more,’’ Col­li­ton said. ‘‘It’s an op­por­tu­nity to give those two more ice time, and they de­serve it. They played re­ally well.’’

Dach’s pro­duc­tion and on-ice im­pact has risen in pro­por­tion to his play­ing time and the trust he has re­ceived from the coach­ing staff.

He notched four points — all as­sists — in the qual­i­fy­ing-round se­ries, be­com­ing the first Hawks rookie since Ed­die Ol­czyk in 1985 to get at least a point in each of his first three post­sea­son ap­pear­ances. More­over, the Hawks out-chanced the Oil­ers 24-22 and outscored them 4-1 with Dach on the ice.

‘‘You could see all sea­son long how they de­vel­oped and just got bet­ter as the year went on,’’ wing Bran­don Saad said re­cently about Dach and rookie de­fense­man Adam Bo­qvist.

Dach also got his first NHL penalty-killing ex­pe­ri­ence in the se­ries. And while the penalty kill strug­gled against the Oil­ers’ stacked power play, Dach’s in­clu­sion on it rep­re­sents the next step in his de­vel­op­ment as a twoway cen­ter.

‘‘He got bet­ter as the year went on, he loves re­spon­si­bil­ity and he thrives on it,’’ Col­li­ton said. ‘‘We knew, based on how he looked in train­ing camp, that he was ready to take a big­ger role here. He’s been great. He’s been as ad­ver­tised.’’

NHL us­ing ‘thicker’ ice

Wing Alex Chiasson of­fered an in­ter­est­ing ob­ser­va­tion dur­ing the Oil­ers’ me­dia avail­abil­ity Thurs­day, com­ment­ing on the ice con­di­tions at Rogers Place in Ed­mon­ton.

‘‘They’ve had to make it a lit­tle bit thicker to make sure the ice is good for all days,’’ Chiasson told re­porters. ‘‘Ob­vi­ously, when you get to the third game, it’s a lit­tle more snowy and bouncy, but that goes for both teams. I think they have done a good job with the ice.’’

The ice con­di­tions have been a fre­quent talk­ing point, con­sid­er­ing Rogers Place and Sco­tia­bank Arena in Toronto nor­mally wouldn’t host more than a game a day — gen­er­ally with a day or more in be­tween — but now are host­ing three a day ev­ery day.

Games 2 and 3 of the Hawks-Oil­ers se­ries were the fi­nal games played at Rogers Place on their re­spec­tive days. Game 4 was the sec­ond of three.

The rate of games per day might be a lit­tle lighter in the next round. ✶


Hawks rookie Kirby Dach is stopped by Oil­ers goalie Mikko Kosk­i­nen in the sec­ond pe­riod Fri­day in Ed­mon­ton, Al­berta.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.