MONTREAL — Andreas Athanasiou’s weight went down a few pounds after he got sick during the second half of Blackhawks training camp.
At the same time, other things were “coming up,” Athanasiou said with a chuckle Saturday.
“It could’ve been something I ate, but there was a stomach bug going around — a couple guys got it,” he said. “There were two days there that were pretty bad, then it started getting better. After that, you just keep improving every day.”
The 29-year-old forward felt solid enough to play in the Hawks’ preseason finale last weekend. In practice Monday, coach Luke Richardson could finally “see some light” in his game. And by the season opener Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Athanasiou felt back to normal.
Still, partially to ease him in and partially because the Hawks’ improved forward depth this season had temporarily dropped him onto the fourth line, Richardson played him only 10 minutes in the opener.
In Boston, though, his ice time skyrocketed up to 17:31, above last season’s average of 16 minutes per game. His workload will likely stay in this range now that he has been bumped up to the second line alongside Lukas Reichel.
Guttman finds a way
Cole Guttman got his season off to a good start with the game-tying goal in the opener Tuesday.
On that play, Guttman initially drove the net to try to screen the goaltender as Athanasiou curled around the offensive zone. But once the puck careened into the corner and Seth Jones pushed down the wall and behind the net, Guttman moved back to find “soft area” in the slot, then buried Jones’ perfect pass.
That represented another way he could use the techniques he worked on this summer — cutting back quickly and maneuvering in tight spaces — beyond just offensive-zone entries, which was what he had in mind during training.
“When you develop that skill, you can use it in many different ways,” Guttman said.
The 24-year-old center has always figured out how to be productive at every level of hockey. He tallied 121 points in 140 career college games, then 30 points in 39 AHL games last season, and he now boasts seven points in his first 16 NHL games (entering Saturday).
He might never occupy a large role on this Hawks’ roster, as evidenced by his 10:06 ice-time average in the first two games, but it’s a safe bet he’ll manage to produce at a steady rate anyway.
There’s a grocery store on the first floor of the apartment building where Richardson, Connor Bedard and Taylor Raddysh all live. When Richardson ran into Bedard — literally — there recently, he had some fun with it.
“I had the cart [and] I was pushing it against his back,” Richardson said. “We’re in downtown Chicago, so I could see him step to the side — he felt uncomfortable. Then he started to look, so I pushed a little harder and he moved again.
He finally turned around with big wide eyes and saw me, and he smiled and was like, ‘Oh.’ I said, ‘Welcome to the building!’”
This and that
- Taylor Hall was a full participant in morning skate Saturday and could surprisingly return as soon as Monday against the Maple Leafs.
- Philipp Kurashev isn’t expected to return from his wrist injury before the end of this road trip.
- Hawks prospect goalie Drew Commesso saved 34 of 36 shots in his first professional start Friday, helping Rockford rout the San Jose Barracuda 7-2 in the AHL season opener.