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Posted On Sunday, 10.26.2014 / 10:31 AM

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

At the Rink: Senators at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- After each played Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators opted not to hold morning skates Sunday prior to their game at United Center (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US,TVA,CITY,WGN).

Ottawa coach Paul MacLean will meet with reporters at 4:30 p.m. ET and Chicago coach Joel Quenneville is set to meet with the media at 5 p.m. ET.

Each is likely to field a few lineup questions.

Quenneville will probably update the health status of forward Daniel Carcillo, who appeared to injure his right knee late in the third period of the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss Saturday at the St. Louis Blues. Following the game, Quenneville estimated that Carcillo might miss more than two weeks. Carcillo flew back to Chicago with the team and is likely to have the knee examined again, so Quenneville might have a clearer timeline on his return.

Posted On Tuesday, 10.21.2014 / 2:02 PM

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

At the Rink: Flyers at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Just as they're about to get forward Kris Versteeg back, the Chicago Blackhawks lost another important puzzle piece Tuesday in goalie Corey Crawford.

Crawford, who started Chicago's first four games, is day-to-day with an upper-body injury that will cause him to miss a game Tuesday at United Center against the Philadelphia Flyers (8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Backup Antti Raanta will make his season debut, while 25-year-old Scott Darling was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League to be the backup.

"He didn't feel great [Monday after practice], it was bothering him, and this morning it got a little worse," Quenneville said of Crawford. "I don't think it was a defining blow [that caused it]."

Posted On Saturday, 10.18.2014 / 2:36 PM

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

At the Rink: Predators at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Still looking to stabilize the third defense pairing, the Chicago Blackhawks are hoping veteran Michal Rozsival is the answer.

The trade of defenseman Nick Leddy to the New York Islanders left the Blackhawks with inexperienced replacement options outside of Rozsival, 36, who missed the first three games of the season with an upper-body injury.

Now healthy, Rozsival will make his 2014-15 debut Saturday at United Center against the Nashville Predators. After being deployed in a two-man rotation at the sixth defense spot the past two seasons, Rozsival has a chance to earn more regular playing time.

"His play will dictate how much he's going to play and how often and how regular," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said recently. "I think he was definitely good enough to be playing regular every game for us the last couple years. We'll see how he does."

Posted On Wednesday, 10.15.2014 / 2:11 PM

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

At the Rink: Flames at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have come into this season with a goal of shooting the puck more while on the power play, and through two games it's paid off.

Heading into a game Wednesday against the Calgary Flames at United Center (8 p.m. ET, SN), the Blackhawks are 2-for-9 in man-advantage situations and have scored a power-play goal in each of their first two games, both by forward Patrick Sharp off point shots.

Sharp, who finished second in the NHL with a career-high 313 shots last season, again is leading Chicago in that category with 13. Only now he and other point men on the power-play units appear to be launching shots from long range more often than recent seasons. It's part of the overall strategy created by new Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, who heads up the power play in practices.

"We've talked a little bit about it," Sharp said. "I think it's just the philosophy of our power play. I mean, I've always been a player that has a lot of shots, whether it's 5-on-5 or on the power play. That's my job out there."

Posted On Saturday, 10.11.2014 / 2:50 PM

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

At the Rink: Sabres at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- It was only one game and it went to a shootout, but the Chicago Blackhawks still used their top defensemen more than they probably wanted to Thursday at the Dallas Stars.

Duncan Keith played a game-high 29:40 in the 3-2 win, up about five minutes from what he's logged per game the past two seasons, while Niklas Hjalmarsson played 25:06 and Johnny Oduya soaked up 25:02.

Brent Seabrook played 23:50, about his usual amount, but coach Joel Quenneville backed off rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk (11:43) and David Rundblad (6:25), who are getting the first crack at filling the gap following the trade of Nick Leddy to the New York Islanders a week ago.

"That's on us, kind of, to get [the coaches'] trust and confidence to put us out there in some different situations, maybe, that in Game 1 maybe we don't have that trust built up that you only get from playing in games and showing them you can do it," said van Riemsdyk, who made his NHL debut against the Stars. "I think it would be best for everyone if we could take a couple minutes away from some of those guys and let them get a little extra rest, so they have a little more fuel in the tank. But it's on us to get that confidence built up [with] the coaches."

Posted On Monday, 06.02.2014 / 1:47 AM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks set up to contend for foreseeable future

CHICAGO -- None of the Chicago Blackhawks were all that interested in talking about next season or beyond late Sunday night, with the sting of a 5-4 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final still fresh, but their future appears bright.

Despite their bid to repeat as Stanley Cup champions coming to an end at United Center, the Blackhawks organization is set up to conceivably make long runs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for years to come.

Chicago already has 19 players on the roster signed to contracts for next season, with elite Finnish center prospect Teuvo Teravainen on the horizon as a potential answer to a long-unfilled gap at second-line center. Their only unrestricted free agents are veteran forward Michal Handzus, depth forward Peter Regin and veteran defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, who split time this season as the sixth defenseman with Michal Rozsival and a couple others. Restricted free agents include forwards Jeremy Morin, who might finally earn a regular spot in the lineup, versatile forward Ben Smith and backup goalie Antti Raanta.

Posted On Sunday, 06.01.2014 / 8:12 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Versteeg back in Blackhawks lineup for Game 7

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg is back in the lineup for Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings.

He replaces defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, who was used as a forward in Game 6 with Versteeg scratched.

The Blackhawks have clawed back from a 3-1 series deficit to force the deciding game Sunday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). In Game 6 at Staples Center, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville scratched Versteeg, who struggled in Game 5, and played Brookbank up front.

Posted On Sunday, 06.01.2014 / 2:19 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings' Williams looks to build on Game 7 track record

CHICAGO – Justin Williams began squirming uncomfortably in his seat behind the microphone before the question was even asked.

Everybody in the room Saturday afternoon knew it was coming, so when the Los Angeles Kings forward was asked about his profound success in Game 7 situations, he just shook his head. Seated next to Williams was Kings center Anze Kopitar, who whispered under his breath, "Bet you didn't see that one coming," before Williams began to answer.

Heading into the seventh Game 7 of his career Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center in the finale of the Western Conference Final (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), Williams has never lost in a seventh game. He's also tied for second all-time in NHL history in Game 7 goals (six) and points (12). Only Glenn Anderson's seven goals and Doug Gilmour's 13 points are better, yet Williams doesn't exactly enjoy the spotlight.

Posted On Saturday, 05.31.2014 / 10:02 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks' comeback fueled by defense corps

CHICAGO -- Were it not for the play of their defense corps, the Chicago Blackhawks' reign as Stanley Cup champion might well be over.

Chicago has won back-to-back games to tie the best-of-7 Western Conference Final at 3-3 and force Game 7 on Sunday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The Blackhawks' defense has played a big role in the comeback.

Duncan Keith scored the game-tying goal in the third period of Game 6, Brent Seabrook recorded his fifth multi-point game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with two assists in that game, and Johnny Oduya scored a goal and assisted on another in Chicago's 5-4 double-overtime victory in Game 5. Niklas Hjalmarsson has become a shutdown, shot-blocking defender, Nick Leddy is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL and there's a solid veteran presence provided next to him by either Michael Rozsival or Sheldon Brookbank.

Posted On Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 7:13 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks say Shaw, Kruger good to go for Game 6

CHICAGO -- Forward Andrew Shaw's right leg hit the boards awkwardly late in the third period of Game 5 in the Western Conference Final, but he is expected to be in the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday in Game 6 at Staples Center.

Shaw was trying to take Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin into the boards in the offensive zone, but his right skate smacked into the kickboard at the bottom of the half wall and his right knee appeared to buckle slightly. After gingerly skating back to the bench following his hit on Muzzin, Shaw stayed in the game and finished the Blackhawks' 5-4 victory in double overtime.

Shaw missed seven games after an upper-body injury sustained in Game 1 of the second round against the Minnesota Wild.

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Quote of the Day

It's cool when you think about how many great American players have played the game and the two players that were at that 18-game point streak and what they've done in their careers. It's pretty cool right now, but it was kind of overshadowed by the loss.

— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings
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