Nordstrom, Blackhawks’ penalty kill still adjusting
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter October 8, 2013 8:24PM
Forward Joakim Nordstrom won a roster spot based on his penalty-killing ability and chemistry with countryman Marcus Kruger. | Getty Images
The facts: 7 p.m., NBCSN, 720-AM.
Updated: October 9, 2013 12:03PM
Joakim Nordstrom recently moved out of the Blackhawks’ training-camp hotel — and into another hotel.
‘‘It’s more like an apartment, though,’’ he said.
So, yes, the 21-year-old forward is still in a transition period — from Sweden to the United States, from European rinks to North American rinks, from the Swedish Hockey League and a brief stint in the American Hockey League to the NHL. But
Nordstrom, a training-camp surprise, said that he’s feeling more comfortable each day and that the preseason prepared him for the pace of the game at its highest level.
‘‘Everyone on the team has helped me out a lot to just make it feel like home here; everyone has been great,’’ Nordstrom said. ‘‘I like the town, I like the fans, I like
everything. It’s been fun.’’
It also has been a challenge. Nordstrom won a roster spot based largely on his penalty-killing ability and his natural chemistry with fellow Swede Marcus Kruger. But the Hawks have allowed four goals on seven power plays through two games, last in the league with a 42.9 percent kill rate. Nordstrom was on the ice for two of those goals and Kruger for three. It’s early, of course, but it has raised some eyebrows, considering the Hawks had the third-best penalty kill in the league last season.
‘‘The two teams that we started off playing against [the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning] have good power plays, so I don’t want to think too much about it,’’ Nordstrom said. ‘‘We’ve been working on it in practices, and I feel confident out there. We’ve just got to work harder and keep the puck out of our net.’’
It won’t get any easier Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues, who are 3-for-8 on the power play through two games and were a solid 19.5 percent last season. Coach Joel Quenneville said it was a ‘‘learning process’’ for Nordstrom, but he’s confident that the rookie can do the job and that the penalty kill will find its footing sooner rather than later.
‘‘We expect that to be a big part of our team, and you win games when you get the job done in those areas,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘It’s been a slow start in that area, but we’ll continue to build off of it and get some confidence in it right now. We want to take that hesitation out.’’