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‘Dependable’ Handzus is still the Blackhawks’ 2C

Apr 16, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT

Michal Handzus Getty Images

All summer long they talked about who would take over for Michal Handzus as the Blackhawks’ second-line center.

Brandon Saad was one option. Ditto for Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Pirri and Drew LeBlanc.

Turns out nobody did. Handzus kept the job for himself. The 37-year-old is expected to skate between Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa when Chicago opens the playoffs tomorrow in St. Louis.

“He’s useful in a lot of ways. He’s predictable, dependable,” coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “I thought that last year he was a big factor. Whoever he played with, that line was getting the job done for us and that’s what we’re looking for now.”

Handzus only manged four goals and 12 assists during the regular season, but there’s something to be said for dependability in the postseason.

“He’s a reliable center man, good in all zones, and he’s a guy you can count on out there,” said Sharp.

Related: Handzus aims to keep 2C job with ‘Hawks

  1. lowenni - Apr 16, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Look, Handzus isn’t gonna win the Conn Smythe and score 20 goals this postseason, but as Sharp said, he’s reliable and steady. It never hurts to have a steady, veteran, defensive presence out there and although he has slowed down, he showed last playoffs that he can be a solid player out there for a great team. At the very least he keeps pucks out of his own net and that’s more important than anything else in the playoffs. I have a lot of respect for Zus and although he is no Bergeron/Malkin 2C, he’ll do the job he needs to. The Blackhawks are an interesting team in that most Cup contenders need two great centers to compete, but the Hawks are just so loaded with Kane, Sharp, Hossa, and Saad (Morin recently as well) that they almost make up for their lack of a true 2C. Go Zus!!

  2. wjarvis - Apr 16, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    Being able to skate between Sharp and Hossa certainly minimizes the importance of who the second line center is. Personally I think Kruger should get another shot at it, he’s raised his faceoff win percentage up to 57% and has been contributing offensively with Smith and Bollig. I’m still not sure how much I like Q’s lines going into the playoffs, if the recent reports are accurate with Kane on the third line, but if there is anything consistent about Q it’s that his lines never stay the same.

  3. esracerx46 - Apr 16, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    He’s not even good at faceoffs anymore. When people have to defend what he’s good at, then he probably isn’t that good at it. He will block a few shots. Other than that, he doesn’t do a whole lot. Can’t skate. Has had trouble passing and receiving passes. Stayed one year too long. But nobody else is ready. The problem with bringing Kruger up is that 4th line has been so consistent. Would have liked to have seen Philip Danault be 4th line center. Then you can give Kruger a shot.

  4. prd797 - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Ideally Zus is on a very short leash. He did the 2C job well last year, and it makes sense to give him another go at the beginning. Maybe you can catch lightning in a bottle twice.

    But if he can’t get it done, I would not be surprised if he is in a suit and tie after a few games into the series.

    • blackhawksdynasty - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:51 PM

      Yep. If Zus is on the ice for a couple of goals early on, I could see Q benching him in favor of Morin. That’s an improvement in many areas. Smith and Sharp can both center a line effectively if needed – although Sharp is admittedly much more comfortable on the wing

  5. tfilarski - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    enough with the pirri comments already!

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