Home Sports Playing the bumper isn’t glamorous, but MacKenzie Entwistle wants to capitalize on his role with the Chicago Blackhawks

Playing the bumper isn’t glamorous, but MacKenzie Entwistle wants to capitalize on his role with the Chicago Blackhawks

by staff

MacKenzie Entwistle just wants you to know he’s OK with either “K.”

You might have noticed that the Chicago Blackhawks forward’s name “officially” has been spelled with an upper and lower case “K,” depending on where you look.


For the record, his mom, Margaret, named him with a capital “K,” but he has been writing lowercase since grade school.

“But that’s just because I was lazy,” Entwistle said.


Mom “always gives me a little trouble when she sees that I don’t write the capital ‘K.’ But for me personally I don’t really care,” he said. “Like I said, I’m a little lazy.

“So I just do lowercase, it’s quicker. Or I just write ‘Mack.’”

Right now, Entwistle is trying to cement himself under another label: “bumper.”

He’s the man in the middle on the second power-play unit led by Jonathan Toews.

In the season opener against the Colorado Avalanche, Entwistle occupied a couple of defenders down low when Toews ripped a backdoor shot into a yawning cage for the Hawks’ first goal of the season.

“I was more of a decoy,” Entwistle told the Tribune. “There were two guys that drew onto me in the backdoor that maybe they thought that Kurshy (Philipp Kurashev) was going to go backdoor to me, and that’s exactly where the lane opens up to, and Kurshy makes a great play, a fake shot and passes it to Tazer.

“And, I mean, he’s not going to miss that,” Entwistle said of Toews.

Enwtistle’s also a penalty killer, a role he began playing last season, but said he’s fortunate to be trusted with a key position on the power play.


“I played there in junior and in the minors for a little bit,” he said. “Obviously they’re two different leagues (than the NHL), but I’m comfortable and I want to stay there and continue to grow and be a good part on that power play.”

Bumper is not a glamorous spot and isn’t likely to offer many scoring opportunities for whoever plays it.

“A lot of people don’t think it’s a spot that touches the puck a lot, but most of the power plays that are good use it a ton,” Entwistle said.

But he embraces its importance to the rest of the unit.

“You look at all top power plays in the NHL and they use that bumper guy really well,” he said. “You look at St. Louis (Blues center) Ryan O’Reilly and those guys, they use that play all the time.

“Once you use that middle option a quite a bit, all of a sudden the box (of four penalty killers) tries to overplay you a little bit more, and that’s when the seams open up, because guys are coming to you instead of watching the seam. … Then it’s on the half-wall guys to hit that seam. … Now all of a sudden (defenders) all collapse and they’ve got to worry about it more often.”


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Chicago Tribune Sports


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As key a role as it is, Entwistle knows just serving as a bumper isn’t what’s going to secure his future in the league. The 6-foot-3, third-year forward devotes most of his attention to his defensive duties.

“I know if I’m going to stay in the league for a long time, I have to be responsible defensively first,” said Entwistle, whose contract expires after next season.

Entwistle looks at other players of his size and skill set from whom he chooses to model his game.

“Alex Killorn … is very effective in the D-zone, and that leads to his offense,” Entwistle said. “He’s a good 200-foot player, and that’s something that I want to build my game to.

“Being a young player (23), I know I have to have a good base in the D-zone and have the coach trust me in the D-zone before I can play offense.”

Coach Luke Richardson has said he likes the combination of Entwistle and Sam Lafferty alongside Kurashev on the third line because their speed can take advantage of offensive opportunities when they arise.


“As a line, that’s where our offense is going to come from, from playing from good solid D-zone,” Entwistle said. “If we can be in there for five, six seconds, and then use their energy in the offensive zone and change in the offensive zone, then it’s going to better our whole line.”

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