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Toews looks ready for new season

by Brian Hedger / Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews
CHICAGO -- It didn't take Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville long to single out two guys he thought had standout performances in Saturday's Training Camp Festival scrimmages.

They just happened to be the two guys atop the cumulative statistics tally -- 22-year old Hawks captain Jonathan Toews and 23-year old forward prospect Igor Makarov.

Toews scored three goals in two games for his Red team, which won both scrimmages. Makarov, playing in just the second scrimmage, scored a pair of goals to go with an assist in a 4-3 loss that wasn't decided until a late goal by defenseman Brent Seabrook.

Makarov's performance came on the heels of him also playing well last week in London, Ont., at a prospects tournament -- which Quenneville also watched.

"I thought the second scrimmage was better," Quenneville said. "Taser had a good day. He played both games and looked like he hasn't missed a beat. Makarov had a noticeable game. He kind of picked up where he left off on Tuesday in London, when he had three goals and seemed to be around the puck a lot. You like his tenacity and quickness. He wants the puck, and it was going in for him today."

Asked if performing well in these scrimmages will carry any weight when it comes to Makarov's chances to make the roster, Quenneville said it can't hurt -- but added that the upcoming exhibition games will also weigh heavily into it.

"We like consistency," he said. "That's always the best measuring stick for how we evaluate players. We'll see how he progresses. He got a little head start, but we'll see."

Another prospect who opened Quenneville's eyes was forward Jeremy Morin, who was the key piece that came to Chicago in the off-season deal that sent Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta. Morin, playing on the second line of Toews' team, finished with a dazzling assist in the first scrimmage after backhanding a pass through the slot to Brandon Pirri for a one-timer that beat Hannu Toivonen.

Former Oilers a good mix -- Fans got to see plenty of newcomers take the ice wearing the Hawks logo for the first time, including former Edmonton Oilers teammates Ryan Potulny and Fernando Pisani.

Both veterans signed with the Hawks as free agents and are looking to secure roster spots. Pisani scored a goal in the second scrimmage and drew mention for it from Quenneville – who sees both vets as potentially useful in a variety of ways.

"(Pisani's) experience and predictability are things we were looking for," Quenneville said. "He's (also) a penalty-killer and seems like a great team guy. Ryan, it's his first day here, but he's a guy who -- as we go along here -- could be very useful as well. He's one guy you could use in all situations."

Potulny scored 15 goals and 32 points for the Oilers last season, while 33-year-old Pisani potted was 4-4-8 in 40 games with a minus-16 rating. Pisani downplayed reports from Edmonton that he fought back spasms last year.

"I just got in the gym and tweaked my back a bit, and media in Edmonton kind of got their hands on it," he said. "It's one of those things where I'm feeling good and looking to get started."

Despite being from Edmonton, Pisani said his decreased production may have stemmed from becoming too comfortable. The Oilers' struggles also may have contributed – Edmonton finished last in the overall standings and was out of the playoff race before the Olympic break.

"In Edmonton we had some tough seasons and (I) wanted to get into a situation where I can win some games and get that good feeling back again," Pisani said. "It was one of those things where, when you stay in one place for too long you get a little stagnant. It's nothing against Edmonton at all. I had a lot of great years there and it's my home city, but I felt it was time for me to move on and look forward to a new challenge. That's why I'm here today."

"Seabs" ignoring contract thoughts -- Blackhawks Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman said Friday that working out a contract extension for defenseman Brent Seabrook is next on his to-do list. Seabrook's current deal will make him a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

Seabrook said Saturday he's not going to worry about it.

"It's whatever those guys want to do," he said. "I'm not too worried about it. I'm not thinking about it and I just want to get this season started."

Scott tired of Cup talk -- At least one of the new faces on the Blackhawks is already getting salty about questions concerning the 2010 Stanley Cup title.

John Scott, a 6-foot-8 defenseman who signed with the Hawks from Minnesota, said he'll be glad when this season starts and the Cup talk is over.

"I don't really like it," he said. "I want to be a part of it, so it's kind of annoying that every question is about, ‘Oh the Cup last year, the Cup last year.' I'm like, ‘Yeah, I wasn't on the team, so …' It's nice that they won the Cup, but it's time to get to work and win another one."

Quenneville on Beach watch -- Bowman also said on Friday that if 2008 top pick Kyle Beach (No.11 overall) makes the Hawks roster out of training camp, he would play regularly. If not, then he'll be sent to Rockford in the AHL to get regular minutes.

Asked about that scenario on Saturday, Beach thought it was fair.

"You're not going to get better watching every night," he said. "Obviously I'd be disappointed if I went to Rockford, but at the same time I'd have to look at it as an opportunity to work on some things and improve on my game."

Quenneville has also said he will watch Beach both on and off the ice – where the 20-year old has struggled with maturity issues in the past. Beach said he's ready for the watch party.

"There's been couple of run-ins in the past and it's something I've got to work on, (but) I think I've really matured a lot over the last year," he said. "I had a great group of guys in Spokane who helped me out with that, and I think the guys here are only going to help more. Sure, he's going to be watching, but hopefully he only sees good things."

Author: Brian Hedger | Correspondent

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