Even though right winger Jordin Tootoo signed a contract extension just before the trade deadline (primarily for expansion draft purposes), he wasn’t expected to be a big factor for Chicago down the stretch. However, with some strong play in his last few outings, the veteran may be playing himself back into the picture when it comes to seeing time in the postseason, suggests Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. Head coach Joel Quenneville noted that Tootoo has been much better as of late:
“He’s really improved his game. He brings that element of pace, and he did a nice job in the physicality department, as well. He brings us some sandpaper, some toughness. It looks like he’s got patience with the puck, in handling it, and having it a little bit more. He’s making some good plays offensively. I like the progression.”
Tootoo has just a single goal and an assist on the season in 42 games but as the games get tougher in the latter stages of the season and into the playoffs, his energy could give him an edge on a spot in the lineup depending on the matchup.
Elsewhere in the Central:
- Also from Lazerus, the Blackhawks will be without right winger Marian Hossa tonight against the Leafs. He suffered a lower body injury on Thursday in Ottawa. Quenneville noted the injury isn’t serious and that he shouldn’t miss much time. The 38 year old is tied for third in goals on the Hawks with 22 in 64 games despite averaging his lowest ice time per game since his rookie season back in 1998-99.
- The Wild are expected to have center Martin Hanzal back in the lineup tonight against the Rangers, notes Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Hanzal has missed the last three games while dealing with strep throat. Minnesota’s prized deadline acquisition has skated in seven games with the team, collecting four assists while logging 15:57 per night, well off the 18:35 he was averaging with Arizona prior to his trade in late February.
- Dallas is anticipating that left winger Jamie Benn will be ready for their next game against San Jose, head coach Lindy Ruff told Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News. Benn took a glove to his eye in a skirmish with Vancouver’s Nikita Tryamkin on Thursday and didn’t play against Calgary on Friday. Ruff noted that Benn only suffered a scratch and no serious damage on the play. While the captain won’t be reaching the 80 point plateau for the third straight year, he’s still having a productive season with 63 points in 66 games.