For the time being, Brandon Pirri’s foray into the NHL is over.
Despite a brilliant start and consistent work on the second line in the absence of Michal Handzus, Pirri vanished from the stat sheet over the circus trip. While the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks were moving closer to their midseason form, Pirri regressed back immensely.
Aside from a lack of productivity (no points and one shot on goal in his last five games) Pirri was hurt by his ineffectiveness at the faceoff dot over the past few games. Despite getting consistent work at the center position, Pirri posted the second-worst faceoff percentage on the team at 44.1 percent.
What may have been the final straw was an awful 3-of-14 performance last night in a loss that saw Pirri once again teetering around 10 minutes of ice time. His defensive game needs a little bit of rounding out, but despite not being able to keep up his hot start, he has proven he belongs in the NHL.
To go along with Pirri’s demotion is the reactivation of Center Joakim Nordstrom, who is getting a second chance after being demoted earlier in the season. Nordstrom didn’t play poorly on the fourth line, but due largely to his ineptitude alongside Marcus Kruger on the penalty kill, he was demoted for some seasoning. Since being demoted, Nordstrom seems to have found the back of the net more with five of his six points in the last 15 games being goals.
Joining Pirri in Rockford for a conditioning assignment will be defenseman Michael Kostka who is still recovering from a foot injury. To coincide with his demotion is the promotion of Jeremy Morin yet again. With the Blackhawks being over capacity at center, a true winger is needed, and Morin has filled the third-line wing role nicely in limited minutes while working on his defensive game in Rockford.
The Blackhawks’ roster is still doing okay when it comes to the cap, with the 24 players occupying $462,489 under the upper limit, per capgeek.com. However, someone will need to be scratched before tomorrow’s game against the Minnesota Wild in order to make things work, and that will likely come in the form of the ailing Handzus or third-line wing/center Andrew Shaw, who may have been injured during last night’s loss to the Dallas Stars.
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