Nerves may have affected Blackhawks' Nick Schmaltz in Game 1


Nick Schmaltz said on Tuesday that he knew his first NHL postseason was going to be different than when he won a national championship at North Dakota.

The intensity, the speed, everything is that much greater. Schmaltz may have been caught up in that somewhat in Game 1, during which he was bumped off the top line. He played better down the stretch and knows he has to be sharper from the start on Saturday.

"I thought I was OK. I thought I could have held onto the puck a little bit more. I don't know if I was nervous or what I was, but just felt like I was just getting rid of the puck when I had it," Schmaltz said. "That's not what I'm accustomed to, so hopefully I can learn from that and bounce back in this game here."

On Friday, Schmaltz was on the Blackhawks' third line in practice, as it looks like they'll make some switches/changes. Ryan Hartman could be on the top line. Coach Joel Quenneville said he liked how Schmaltz finished on Thursday and still expects the rookie to be a big part of the playoffs moving forward.

"One game's not a long time and he's had different line mates all year long. But no matter who he's playing with we need his skill, speed and two-way play," Quenneville said. "That's what we're looking for no matter who he plays with because it can enhance his line."

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When Schmaltz was sent to Rockford during the regular season he took the message the right way, responded and improved his game. The stage is bigger now, but Schmaltz has to respond the same way off Thursday's so-so postseason debut.

"Maybe a little bit [disappointed being taken off the top line], but whoever I'm playing with, I'm happy with," he said. "A lot of great players on this team. We got guys who can play wherever, so wherever I'm put in the lineup, I'm just going to try to work my hardest and do my best."


• Marian Hossa did not skate on Friday but it was just a maintenance day. He's expected to play in Game 2. Tomas Jurco skated in his third-line place at Friday's practice. 

• Dennis Rasmussen was skating on the Blackhawks' fourth line at practice. If that stands on Saturday, it appears John Hayden will be out for Game 2.

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