Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Pirri thrives as No. 2 center for Chicago Blackhawks

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks started the 2013-14 season without a clear-cut No. 2 center. They have seemingly found one in Brandon Pirri. He was outstanding in that roll for the ‘Hawks last night as they dismantled the Minnesota Wild by a 5-1 final score last night. If there was any question about whether or not he could hack it in the two-hole, there shouldn’t be now.

Pirri posted two assists on the night and didn’t look out of place for a moment. He spent nearly 13 minutes out on the ice, and while his work in the faceoff circle needs to be stronger, Chicago was willing to work with Brandon Saad in that department when they contemplated moving him to center.

They would be wise to have that same kind of patience with Pirri, who has more than paid his dues to the organization in the AHL while continuing to grow as a two-way player.

After a 76-point regular season in the minors last season, it was clear that the ‘Hawks had yet another young stud ready to move into their lineup. It was just a matter of finding room for him in a crowded top-nine. With Michal Handzus on the shelf for a little while, Pirri got the chance to fill in and was pretty darn good in the process.

One game doesn’t suddenly make Pirri an All-Star or anything. It’s just another small step for the talented forward, who has more than 200 games in the AHL to his credit. The important part for the ‘Hawks is that he plays a sound game in the neutral and defensive zones. That was his weakness when he came into the professional ranks a few years ago, but he seems greatly improved in that department.

There’s more work to be done, sure. Yet Chicago should feel pretty comfortable with Pirri as their No. 2 center moving forward. He’s a perfect compliment to Jonathan Toews who is cemented on the top line, and shouldn’t be replaced once Handzus is able to return to the lineup.

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Tags: Brandon Pirri Chicago Blackhawks NHL