Winning without Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane has quickly become nothing special for the Chicago Blackhawks, as they reeled off their fourth straight win without their two franchise cornerstones in Wednesday night’s tilt against the Montreal Canadiens. Jeremy Morin, who has spent most of 2013-14 in the AHL, has played as big a role in the impressive streak as any other Blackhawk.
Morin has scored in three straight games, collecting five points overall in that span. He has developed some nice chemistry in the offensive zone with much-maligned Bryan Bickell and has added some sandpaper to a mostly non-physical Chicago roster.
It would seem that Morin has all but forced his way onto the team’s playoff roster. While the Blackhawks are extremely deep at forward and Joel Quenneville has sometimes been known to stubbornly stand by ineffective veterans, not giving Morin a spot in the lineup during the postseason — one which he has clearly earned — would simply hurt the team’s chances of advancing. Michal Handzus has been dreadful all year long for Chicago; scratching him, shuffling the other centers around and finding a spot for Morin in Handzus’ stead would be ideal.
Morin has evidently worked hard on and improved his skating, previously a glaring weakness. Consequently, his presence in the lineup no longer detracts from Chicago’s puck possession game; indeed, his relative corsi ranks first on the team by a mile. While this is probably attributable in large part to a small sample size, there is no denying that Morin belongs.
It’s now up to Quenneville and company to make the necessary room for him.