Martin St. Pierre began Sunday's game against the Rangers on the Blackhawks' 2nd line. By the middle of the 2nd period, St. Pierre was centering the top line with winger Martin Havlat.That's where he found himself again at practice Monday.
"It was awesome," St. Pierre said about Sunday's promotion. "It was definitely a good feeling to know that they have that much confidence in me."
"He has three points in three games and makes good decisions with the puck," said coach Denis Savard. "He deserves to be there."
On Monday, St. Pierre centered a line with Havlat and Peter Bondra, a combination St. Pierre believes can mesh well together.
"Havlat is a great guy to give the puck to and I'm more of a giver than a goal scorer," St. Pierre said. "[Bondra] adds some speed on the other wing so I think we click well together."
Savard said that usual top-line center Bryan Smolinski "didn't play his best" Sunday. Smolinski played just 10 minutes against the Rangers, but Savard expects the veteran to bounce back Wednesday at Detroit.
Khabibulin back: With Patrick Lalime getting the last two starts in net, Nikolai Khabibulin is rested and will be back in goal Wednesday. Savard said he will come back Thursday with Lalime against San Jose at home. With only two more back-to-back situations the rest of the season, Savard plans to rely heavily on Khabibulin the rest of the way.
The Blackhawks are currently carrying three goalies with Khabibulin, Lalime and Brian Boucher, whose last start was Jan. 19 against the Wild. "Boucher deserves to be here for what he has done for our team this season," Savard said. "But it's tought to play him right now the way Lalime has played." Lalime is 1-1-1 in three starts with a .98 goals against average and .967 save percentage.
Reality forecheck: Savard ran his team through a hard 60-minute practice Monday stressing fundamentals and forechecking. Savard was disappointed with how his squad came out in the 1st period against New York. "The guys admitted they probably respected the Rangers too much and were too timid," Savard said. "I asked them when we became a trapping team because that's not us. We want to be aggressive on the forecheck."
Injury bits: Jassen Cullimore practiced Monday despite breaking a finger Sunday against the Rangers. Cullimore missed most of the 3rd period after sustaining the injury. Savard said the Blackhawks haven't decided yet whether Cullimore will need to go on injured reserve. "He wants to play, so we'll see" Savard said ...
Karl Stewart was placed on IR Sunday with soreness in his knee but was back on the ice Monday. Savard said he noticed a dip in Stewart's play lately and suggested he spend Monday on the bike. The gritty winger said he preferred to fight his way through it ...
Rene Bourque was back on the ice Monday and may play as early as this weekend. Savard said Bourque is doing well as he recovers from an ankle injury and skated well. Bourque has been out of the lineup since Dec. 31 against Columbus.