One-on-one interview with Joakim Nordstrom

Nordstrom_Joakim_Photo_IceHogs_GregHamil_2013Nov09vsIowaJoakim Nordstrom battles for position with Iowa’s Tyler Graovac Nov 9th
photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs, Greg Hamil

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By Chris Block

Joakim Nordstrom returned the Rockford IceHogs lineup on Saturday in Charlotte after being reassigned by the Blackhawks the previous day.

Nordstrom, 21, posted a goal and an assist in the IceHogs 5-3 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday night.  He was also a stunning plus-4 in the game.  Overall this season with the IceHogs, Nordstrom has skated in 16 contests, notching 6 goals and 2 assists to go with a plus-4 (plus/minus) rating.  Modest offensive numbers, though the Swede is scoring at a 20.0% shooting percentage (6/29).

In 10 games with the Blackhawks, Nordstrom has 1 goal and 1 assist.  That lone helper came off a neat redirection that led to Jeremy Morin’s first NHL goal on the campaign on December 5th at Minnesota – Nordstrom’s first game back with the Hawks since being demoted to Rockford in late October.  In all his time with the Hawks, the Stockholm, Sweden native has averaged 10:35 of ice time.

The AHL and its teams do keep time-on-ice (TOI) stats.  However, those numbers are not official statistics, nor are they made public (one reason being accuracy from rink to rink), but there’s no doubt Nordstrom has racked up substantially more ice time with Rockford of late.

Nordstrom is a key member of Rockford’s penalty kill.  He also sees time on the power play in addition to skating on one of the top two lines.  Nordstrom has skated on the wing for the most part while he’s been in Rockford, though he did serve as Morin’s center for a game on November 29th in Chicago – a game the IceHogs lost 7-1.

We had a chance to sit down for a one-on-one chat with Nordstrom last weekend, just prior to his recall to Chicago.

The Blackhawks 3rd round selection (90th overall) from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft talked about playing wing now, versus his customary center position, the type of player he sees himself developing into and getting sent back down to Rockford after making the Blackhawks, and playing in 8 NHL games straight out of training camp.

–On if Joakim Nordstrom prefers, or feels more comfortable, at center or left wing?

Yeah, I do actually.  I’ve been playing center for the last 4-5 years – maybe more than that.  And then this year I’ve basically only been playing on the wing.

I’ve gotten more comfortable out on the wing.  Playing center, its just stuck somewhere in my back.  Once I’m playing center again, I feel comfortable being in the center of the ice.

–Since he was drafted as, and has played center more exclusively for the past five seasons, did Nordstrom have any nervousness or difficulty adjusting to making the Blackhawks out of training camp as a Left Wing?

I played on the wing throughout the whole training camp.  So, I kind of got adjusted.  I felt comfortable playing out there.  It’s not easy, but you can do a simple job.  So, I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but it’s a simple job to do.  Make sure you get pucks out, and stuff like that.  I like playing on the wing.

–What does Nordstrom see himself ultimately developing into as a player?

Probably more of a checking line guy.  I see myself as good both offensively [and defensively].  My biggest strength is probably my defensive game.  I’m pretty good at killing penalties and blocking shots.  So that’s something I focus on doing good every night.

–Earlier this season, Phillip Danault told TheThirdManIn.com that the Blackhawks had told him that they were looking for Danault to “be a ‘Krüger.’”  Does Nordstrom see himself similarly fitting into the same role as a Krüger?

Yeah.  Absolutely.  I would love to be as good, and play like him.  He’s a really good hockey player.  I enjoy watching him on TV now when they play.  He’s a great role model.

He’s definitely a player that I look at, and try to learn from.

–Did Nordstrom know Marcus Kruger at all before coming to North America?

Yeah, I’ve known him for a couple years.  His dad was my coach growing up.  And I played with his younger brother.

Nordstrom on the benefit of knowing Kruger coming into the 2013-14 season and suddenly finding himself on the same line, and in a penalty killing role alongside Kruger.

[Marcus] was taking good care of me, both on and off the ice.  He’s helped me out a lot so far.

Was Nordstrom surprised when he learned of his first re-assignment to the Rockford IceHogs in late October?

Ah, I don’t know.  It was nothing I could think about, or get surprised or not.

They told me to go down here.  And that is a decision that I support.  I think it’s good for me to be down here too.  Get a little more ice time and a little bit of a bigger role.

On the IceHogs mindset after a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Wolves at Allstate Arena, and going into the rematch last Saturday in Rockford.

We just shut down that game, right after.  Obviously there’s nothing you can change.  The game is past and it’s in the past.  We just tried to focus on tonight’s game.  And that’s what we did.  And just make sure that we were in the game from the start.  I think the puck wasn’t bouncing our way last night; we were in the penalty box too much.  They played a better game than we did (on Friday).  I think it was the other way around tonight.

–On Nordstrom’s first period goal to give Rockford a 2-0 lead over the Wolves on November 30th.  Which was led by a terrific individual effort by Phillip Danault, on a drive to the net.

[Danault] came in with good speed.  So I just tried to skate for a rebound.  He made a nice deke and then a real nice pass, so it was an easy tap in goal for me.  Probably one of the easiest goals I’ve ever scored.  So, it was nice.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com
PuckChatter@gmail.com
Twitter.com/ChrisBlock

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3 Responses to One-on-one interview with Joakim Nordstrom

  1. Great read Chris.

    I’m a big fan of what a player like Nordstrom can potentially play with the big club. The Hawks have too many guys at times looking to make the behind the back/extra pretty pass for a goal. You need grinders and role players like him.

    How’s he looked on the PK? Where does Rockford sit in the A as a team in that category?

    • Thanks, Ty.

      Rockford has the worst (30th) ranked PK in the AHL. Its running at 73.3% efficiency overall. At home, it ranks 26th (77.6%) and on the road its 29th (70.4%).

      Its a different group than last year’s, in the sense that there’s not as many silly or aggressive penalties. But there’s still a lot of PIMs being taken. So far the IceHogs have been shorthanded 120 times (7th worst overall in the league) for an average of 4.6 times short-handed per game.

      Nordstrom and Danault are the team’s best penalty killers. They’ve been put together for the last little while when they’re both in the lineup. Danault was hurt in Thursday night’s game and didn’t play on Saturday in Charlotte, a game Rockford gave up two PPGs in a 5-3 win. Its the second and third forward pairings on the PK that are being victimized, if we want to isolate it down to the forwards – not that its entirely fair, of course.

  2. the important question is, can he yodel? Or is that the bavarians?

    Nice piece on a pretty big surprise, (for me), player this season. Didn’t realize he was a center until I read your interview. Funny how Krugers dad coached him

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