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Blackhawks Recall Pirri From Rockford

By Jay Zawaski-

(CBS) Fresh off their first three-game losing streak, the Blackhawks have recalled center Brandon Pirri from Rockford. It's a move that the Hawks likely would have liked to make sooner, but Pirri was out of action with a lower-body injury. He returned to Rockford this weekend, and the Hawks made the call on Monday.

Pirri, 22, has registered 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in 24 games with the Hawks this season.

Fans and some media have been clamoring for Pirri for some time. Now that he's here, where will the young centerman fit?

Pirri is an "offense first" player.  In fact, many believe the reason the Hawks decision to demote him on December 4th was directly related to his defensive play.  With that in mind, it's almost assured that Pirri will center the 2nd line.  Here's a look at a couple of potential lines.

Sharp – Toews – Hossa

Saad – Pirri – Kane

Bickell – Shaw – Versteeg

Bollig – Kruger – Smith

Handzus benched

To me, this is the most likely scenario.  There's been little indication that Quenneville would be willing to break up the 4th line.

The 2nd scenario is similar, but puts Quenneville's public enemy #1, Bryan Bickell, in the press box and Handzus in the lineup.

Sharp – Toews – Hossa

Saad – Pirri – Kane

Handzus / Bollig – Shaw – Versteeg

Bollig / Handzus – Kruger – Smith

I hate this idea, but Quenneville seems to love his security blankets of Bollig and Handzus.  Especially Bollig, who's been on a goal scoring "tear" lately.

The 3rd scenario just flips Pirri to the 3rd line and Shaw to the 2nd line.  Shaw has been very solid with Kane, but that forces Pirri into a "checking line" role.  That's not his game, and will simply illustrate his defensive shortcomings.  Second lines in hockey typically see the "easiest" competition over the course of a game.

Wherever he lines up, he will help the Hawks' offense, but Pirri needs to hope his defense has improved enough to win over Quenneville.  He's headed into free agency this summer, and top prospect Teuvo Teravainen is nipping at his heels.

Jay Zawaski covers the Blackhawks for and 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.

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