The Norfolk Admirals lead all AHL teams with 81 points and are just 6 wins away from breaking the league record for most home victories. chicagoblackhawks.com recently caught up with second-year Admirals head coach Mike Haviland to discuss how recent transactions have affected his squad and more.
With the trade of Brandon Bochenski and recent call-ups, who have you been relying on for production?
Obviously Carl Corazzini and Martin St. Pierre, before he was recalled... Dave Bolland has really stepped his game up to a different level. Danny Richmond has picked up his game. But certainly you look to Bolland, Jonas Nordqvist, Corazzini, and Dustin Byfuglien on the back end for scoring. With the trade and the new kid (Kris Versteeg) coming in, he's trying to get acclimated and that's part of being down here. Also, a guy like Colin Fraser you lean on a little bit more and the guys have stepped it up and hopefully they'll continue to do that.
Talking with Bolland recently, he said the biggest thing for him was just finally getting healthy.
I think that's what it is with him. He had so many nagging injuries and was never 100 percent and finally now he is, which is great for us. He's got world class talent is now really getting the chance to show it. He's somebody we count on down here, and as long as he's here we're going to use him as much as he can because certainly he's going to get his chance to be up in Chicago this year or next year.
[Bolland has 15 points (5g, 10a) over his past 13 games since January 20. No Admiral has more points than Bolland during that period.]
James Wisniewski has really solidified his spot on defense with his strong play since being recalled. Are you surprised at all?
Not really. I think Wiz finally got it. I think he finally understood that he needed to be a complete player, and what I mean by that is to be a tough guy to play one-on-one; make that first pass; move his feet and make smart decisions. I think it took Wiz a couple years to understand that he didn't have to put up a bunch of points, and I think he finally got it.
If you look at his numbers before he left here he had no goals and six assists and was a +6 or something and was playing just great hockey for us. He took that confidence and went up. It takes some guys a little longer than others and I think Wiz finally figured out to keep the game as simple as possible and to know when to jump in and when not to. I'm so happy for him and this organization because we do have some young guys and they let them develop, and now he's paying dividends.
Before the trade for Versteeg there was a deal involving Matt Keith and Sebastien Caron for Pierre Parenteau and Bruno St. Jacques. How have they adjusted to their new team?
Parenteau and St. Jacques have been been outstanding. Obviously we lost some great players in the trade, you always do; you have to give something to get something. We felt that getting an older defenseman with our younger guys would solidify our 'D' and it certainly did. St. Jacques has been outstanding, a steady stay-at-home type who plays with an edge but is very smart on the ice and makes good decisions. We're just a better unit back there with him. Parenteau can skate and has a good knack for the net and vision, so we added more skill. Those two guys have fit in great.
[After being re-assigned last Saturday, Parenteau had a four-point night for the Admirals Sunday in a 5-2 victory in Philadelphia. Parenteau has points in his last three games with Norfolk (2g, 7a).]
When you lose a pure goal scorer like Bochenski it's tough to replace, but Kris Versteeg is going to be a great player. He's a young kid and adds to our depth and the future of the Blackhawks. He's a skilled kid, more of a complete player in terms of playing in all three zones and is smart system-wise. He'll fit in, it's just a matter of time. When you get traded for a guy who scored 33 goals or whatever in 34 games, I think there is a little pressure on him right now. I'm just telling him to be himself. He had an assist and was a +2 in his first game and a couple goals and an assist in a shootout win against Albany the other night, so that's pretty good.
Corey Crawford has been solid for you all year in net. Were you surprised that he didn't make the All-Star team?
I was very shocked that he didn't make it. He was, in my mind, one of the best in the league. I know they have to get a guy from each team represented and we had four guys, but I think Crawf should have been on it. He hasn't let up since and it's made him hungrier to show everybody that he's not a fluke. It gives him some more fire being left off, I think.
[Crawford is 29-13-1 with a 2.68 goals against average.]
Mike Brodeur has also returned from back surgery. How has he played as Crawford's backup?
We won in a shootout in his first game and in practice he's been pretty sharp. He says that he has no back pain right now, which is good news for all of us. Mike is going to be a kid that we're going to count on down the stretch because we don't want to burn out Corey going into the playoffs. Mike's going to get his time and I think he's going to be fine for us. He's a good goaltender and maybe it's just his turn to get a look from this organization. With the injuries it's been tough to do that and now finally he's cleared and hopefully he can get in there and play and will be good.
Patrick Lalime was 3-1 during a two-week conditioning stint in Norfolk. How impressed were you with his performance?
I was very impressed with Patrick on and off the ice. He's a true professional and took that two weeks here and didn't sulk or do anything negative. He was very positive to every guy and what we were doing here and obviously played great for us in the cage. I was really proud to see him do that; he's fought back to get his career back to where he wants to be and is an extremely hard worker. It was great for Crawford to have an older guy here for him. I can't say enough about him. I think he's a class act and I was really proud to see him get a shutout his first game back in the NHL. I believe he is a very good goalie and was very impressed with him.
How has Dustin Byfuglien responded after a six-game stint in Chicago?
I think it's a situation where it takes anyone who gets sent down some time to adjust. But he scored a goal, the overtime winner, in Philadelphia in his first game back. He understood that Savvy really wants him to work on his D-zone coverage and I have to get across to him that he needs to be a complete player.
We know that he's got some offensive ability and a lot of natural talent. But he needs to be a complete player and somebody that is reliable to put on the ice. Like I said, it took Wiz a couple of years. Hopefully it won't take Buff as long, but he's probably in that same category as Wiz except with a little more skill. He's got some things to work on and he understands that.