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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 2:50 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Panthers at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- After taking a long look in the mirror, the Chicago Blackhawks will try to end a three-game losing streak while getting a look at their past at United Center on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks conclude a disappointing eight-game homestand against the Florida Panthers, who have six former Blackhawks in their organizational system and five on the NHL roster.

Injuries and ineffective play will keep all but Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell and forward Jimmy Hayes from facing their former team, but they'll have plenty of motivation being back at the Madhouse on Madison Street.

"It's always fun playing your old teammates, especially Brian Campbell," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said after Chicago's morning skate. "I got along with him good here and we're good friends to this day, so it's always fun playing guys you're familiar with. When you get out on that ice, the competitive nature takes over and you want to win the hockey game and do everything you can to get the best of them."

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Posted On Sunday, 02.22.2015 / 11:33 AM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Bruins at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Less than two years after playing in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks again have their Cup hopes in mind for the finale of a two-game regular-season series.

When they play at United Center on Sunday (3:30 pm ET; NBC), however, each team hopes to shake off some recent struggles and spark a hot streak for the stretch run of the regular season. The Bruins are winless in their past six games (0-4-2) and clinging to the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Blackhawks are trying to hang onto third in the Central Division and are 2-1-3 in the first five of a season high eight-game homestand.

Boston is also without two-way center David Krejci, who was injured Friday at the St. Louis Blues.

“It’s a really high stress point,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said after practice Saturday in Chicago. “It’s easy to get down and frustrated. It’s hard to keep things loose and keep things light and keep things confident in the room and in the game. But as individuals, we have to have each others’ backs, keep staying the course and moving things in the right direction. If we can keep competing hard and stick to the gameplan, ultimately we’ll start getting the results that we want.”

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Posted On Friday, 02.20.2015 / 2:37 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Avalanche at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Colorado Avalanche are back in the Windy City and goalie Semyon Varlamov is going to start, and that usually means trouble for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Varlamov always seems to save his best for the Blackhawks, who will face him for the second time this season at United Center on Friday. Varlamov made 54 saves in a 2-0 Colorado victory on Jan. 6 to earn his second career shutout against Chicago, setting an NHL record for most saves in a road shutout.

The victory improved his career record against the Blackhawks to 8-3-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .945 save percentage in 12 games.

"I think they do," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said when asked if goalies can get into the heads of opponents. "A lot of players who play against [the Montreal Canadiens] and see Carey Price, I'm sure he's in their heads. That certainly could be the case. When I was playing, sometimes you just feel very confident against a team or against certain players, and it seems [Varlamov is against Chicago]."

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.18.2015 / 2:18 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- A game within the game will be one of the most interesting aspects to watch when the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings conclude their season series at United Center on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

The game pits the NHL's top-rated penalty killers (Blackhawks) against the League's best on power plays (Red Wings).

Will Detroit's 26 percent success rate with the man-advantage (51 goals in 196 opportunities) be too much for Chicago, or will the Blackhawks' 87.9 percent rate of killing power plays hinder the Red Wings' offensive capability?

"I guess we'll find out," said forward Ben Smith, who plays alongside center Marcus Kruger on Chicago's top penalty-killing unit. "It's a big challenge for us. We're excited for it. They've got some highly-skilled players who can make some plays, and I guess we'll see who trumps who. It's one aspect of the game that will play a big role in the outcome, so we're going to do our best out there."

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Posted On Sunday, 02.15.2015 / 10:41 AM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Penguins at Blackhawks

CHICAGO – The Pittsburgh Penguins might not know the exact numbers, but it comes as no surprise to them that Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa is sizzling right now.

Hossa, 36, has seven goals and one assist in the past four games for the Blackhawks, who play host the Penguins at United Center on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, TVA, City). The former Penguins forward, who helped Pittsburgh make it to the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, nearly scored an eighth in Chicago's 3-1 victory Friday against the New Jersey Devils.

Goalie Cory Schneider made a save on Hossa's shot but it quickly became an assist when Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews – who centers Hossa's line – put the rebound into the net for a 2-1 lead in the third period.

Toews has two assists to go with that goal in the past four games and left wing Brandon Saad has two goals and three assists in the previous five game for the Blackhawks' top line combination.

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Posted On Friday, 02.13.2015 / 2:22 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Devils at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Rookie forward Ryan Hartman will live out a dream and defenseman Kyle Cumiskey will get another shot to revive his when the Chicago Blackhawks face the New Jersey Devils at United Center on Friday.

The Blackhawks recalled the duo from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Thursday, and reassigned rookie forward Teuvo Teravainen. Cumiskey, 28, will take the place of veteran Michal Rozsival, who's out with an upper-body injury. Hartman, the 30th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, will bring his hard-edged game to the right wing of the fourth line.

"I was just sitting in bed, chilling, and I got the call," said Hartman, 20, who's originally from the Chicago suburb of West Dundee, Ill. "I didn't have any words. I'm kind of speechless. It's good to be here."

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.11.2015 / 2:27 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Canucks at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Kris Versteeg is well-practiced returning from injuries, but that doesn't mean he's any less excited to return to the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Wednesday.

Versteeg went through morning skate fine and will play right wing on the third line against the Vancouver Canucks. It will be his first game since New Year’s Day, when he blocked a shot and left the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic with a broken left hand.

"It's unfortunate, for whatever reason, but that's just the way the game goes and you've just got to understand that," Versteeg said. "I'm just excited to get back out and play with the guys again. It's tough watching. I got the pregame jitters in my bed and during my sleep last night, so you don't sleep great, but I'm more excited than anything to get back out there."

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Posted On Monday, 02.09.2015 / 7:34 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Coyotes at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Winning more than two games in a row is something the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to accomplish for the first time in nearly two months when they host the Arizona Coyotes at United Center on Monday.

Since their eight-game winning streak from Nov. 26 through Dec. 11, the Blackhawks have gone 13-10-1 and won two consecutive games three times. After defeating the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on Sunday, they have a chance to stretch their current streak to three straight in their second game against the Coyotes this season. They can start to close the gap on the Nashville Predators (76 points), who lead the Central Division and have an eight-point advantage on the third-place Blackhawks (68 points).

"It'd be nice to go on a run," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Monday. "[The Predators have] had a very consistent year. St. Louis is coming off a major run, as well. It really helps you. I mean, you can really move up in the standings when you put something together and you're getting points in 10 or so games in a row."
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.20.2015 / 2:22 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Coyotes at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Arizona Coyotes will be without forward Mikkel Boedker against the Chicago Blackhawks after he had surgery on his spleen.

Boedker sustained the injury on a hit in a 4-3 shootout loss at the Jets Winnipeg on Sunday and needed surgery after the game. The surgery was successful and he is recovering, according to the Coyotes.

Boedker, who'd played 257 games in a row, was put on injured reserve Monday and is week-to-week. He is the Coyotes' third-leading scorer with 14 goals and 14 assists.

"He's been a good player for us," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "He's one of our best offensive players and we're a team that has to work to score, so when he's out of our lineup, it's certainly going to impact it. Hopefully it's not going to be long-term, but he's certainly a player we miss."

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Posted On Sunday, 01.18.2015 / 10:44 AM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Stars at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Any way you present them, the numbers haven't been pretty for the Chicago Blackhawks the past month.

Their record is pedestrian. Their penalty kill has become a little leaky. Their puck possession is down quite a bit from its usual level.

The next chance to restart the engine is against the Dallas Stars at United Center on Sunday, when the Blackhawks have a chance to win their fourth game this season against Dallas.

"We've got to get back to playing the way we have in the past few years, controlling the puck, puck possession, making plays and putting shots on net," Chicago right wing Patrick Kane said. "That seems to be our best recipe."

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Quote of the Day

I've got a lot of experience and there's a lot of young guys. It's even making me excited a little more. It's kind of a new life. At my age, I feel like I know a lot of things what to do, but I just cannot do it anymore. It's a lot easier to tell them what to do because they've still got the legs and hands to do it. I just know things, but I cannot do them anymore.

— Jaromir Jagr after making his Panthers debut in a win against the Sabres on Saturday