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Posted On Thursday, 11.14.2013 / 2:29 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hanzal, Vrbata returning to Coyotes' lineup

CHICAGO -- The Phoenix Coyotes will get two of their most important players back Thursday at United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Top center Martin Hanzal (illness) and second-line right wing Radim Vrbata (lower body) will return to the lineup after going through a full morning skate.

Hanzal missed one game, a 3-2 overtime win Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, while Vrbata missed the past two games. Defenseman Derek Morris, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, went through the skate but will not play.

"It gives us a little more depth at the forward position," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "They're two guys who we put in our top-six forwards, so you take two of them out together, that's a big hole. [Hanzal] touches so many parts of the game for us at center ice and Vrbata's been, for the last couple years, our leading goal scorer. They're both valuable players who can hopefully jump back in and contribute."

Morris also is getting closer to returning.

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Posted On Sunday, 11.10.2013 / 5:33 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks look to continue fast start against Oilers

CHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville isn't letting a storyline get in the way of putting his best lineup on the ice.

The Chicago Blackhawks' coach will start his top goalie, Corey Crawford, against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday at United Center (7:30 p.m., WGN, SNET-W, SNET-EDM), less than 24 hours after earning the win in a 5-2 road victory against the Dallas Stars.

The decision means that struggling 40-year old veteran Nikolai Khabibulin will have to keep waiting for a chance to turn his season around.

"[Khabibulin] definitely got some consideration," Quenneville said during a press conference two hours before puck drop. "I know the last couple of weeks it's been a light schedule, only going like four games a week, so we expect to get him in here real soon."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 8:02 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets' Kane scratched against Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Evander Kane (lower body) was scratched from the Winnipeg Jets' lineup on Wednesday before their game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Kane, who missed the Jets' 4-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, participated in an optional morning skate Wednesday and was a game-time decision.

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Posted On Sunday, 11.03.2013 / 5:58 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Berra makes NHL debut against Blackhawks

CHICAGO – The trade that sent Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues is about to start paying dividends for the Calgary Flames.

After being recalled from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League on Saturday, rookie goaltender Reto Berra will make his first NHL start Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.

"He wants to play and I’ll never try to hold back a thoroughbred," Flames coach Bob Hartley told reporters after his team's skate Sunday. "I know of Reto because of my Swiss connections. This guy was probably the biggest free agent in the Swiss League, and he didn't even sign any contracts over there, [do] any deals. His mindset was to play in the NHL. He came here for a reason and that's why he's in [this] game."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.29.2013 / 6:16 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Senators reunite Spezza, Ryan, promote Zibanejad

CHICAGO -- Since blowing out the Detroit Red Wings 6-1 last week at Joe Louis Arena, the Ottawa Senators have only scored three combined goals in a pair of losses at home to the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

Looking for a spark offensively, Senators coach Paul MacLean is set to reunite forward Bobby Ryan and captain Jason Spezza on the top line while putting 20-year old Mika Zibanejad in Ryan's former spot at right wing on the second unit.

Spezza (seven goals, four assists) and Ryan (six goals, three assists) are Ottawa's top-two scorers, while Zibanejad has a goal and an assist in three games since being recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League.

"We played together earlier in the year and I was banged up a little bit," Spezza said. "So we'll get another opportunity to play together and hopefully we'll make the most of it. If we're going to play together, we have to help guide the team offensively. When we're split up, it's a little bit more by committee. We have to try to be good together offensively and also play solid against the other teams' top lines."


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Posted On Saturday, 10.26.2013 / 3:13 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks continue roster, lineup shuffle against Wild

CHICAGO -- The wheel of change keeps spinning for the Chicago Blackhawks, with new faces continuing to get auditions and more familiar faces seeing looks in different roles.

This time, part of the lineup shakeup was caused by veteran center Michal Handzus, who did not participate in the Blackhawks' morning skate Saturday because of an upper-body injury. Marcus Kruger will fill in for Handzus at center on the second line Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild at United Center (8 p.m., FS-N, WGN), playing between star wingers Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.

The move means Andrew Shaw will shift back to the middle of the third line, where Kruger's been playing of late, and rookie Jeremy Morin will get his first look at right wing on that unit this season. Morin was recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Friday afternoon.

"[Handzus] could be out for a little bit, we'll see," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "[Morin] gives us a little bit of something there, some speed and quickness and can score goals ... and things happen when he's out there."

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.23.2013 / 1:38 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Facial injury has Red Wings' Kronwall a question mark

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings are used to dealing with injuries this season, so the fact that they might have to play another game without top defenseman Niklas Kronwall shouldn't faze them much.

Kronwall had a puck slide up his stick at the morning skate Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena and hit him in the mouth, cutting his chin and damaging his teeth. Kronwall, who has missed the past two games with a concussion, was sent to see a dentist and is listed as a game-time decision for the team's game Wednesday against the visiting Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m., TSN).

The Red Wings recalled rookie defenseman Xavier Ouellet from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League in case Kronwall can't play.


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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 6:28 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bolland happy to be back in Chicago

CHICAGO -- After watching the player they affectionately nicknamed "The Rat" pester opposing stars into poor performances the past few seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks will now get to live the other side of the Dave Bolland experience.

He and his new teammates on the Toronto Maple Leafs are in Chicago for a game Saturday at United Center (7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHLN-US), which will be Bolland's first game against his former team.

Bolland helped Chicago win a pair of Stanley Cups, including last season, when he scored the series-clinching goal in the third period of Game 6 against the Boston Bruins.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 1:11 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks put Toews, Kane on different lines

CHICAGO -- Looking for more offensive production, the Chicago Blackhawks are going back to what worked last season.

Heading into their game Saturday at United Center against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC), Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is splitting up star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Quenneville did the same thing for most of the 2012-13 regular season, which ended with Chicago winning the Presidents' Trophy prior to winning the 2013 Stanley Cup.

Kane and Toews were on the same line midway through the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs and started this season the same way. But with the Blackhawks struggling to score more than two goals a game, Quenneville is ready to see what the old line combinations can do.

Marian Hossa, who didn't practice Friday but is expected to play, likely will move to right wing on the top line with Toews while Kane likely will slide back into the right-wing spot on the second line opposite left wing Patrick Sharp.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 6:30 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks set to give Pirri another look

CHICAGO – Brandon Pirri will get a look for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night against the winless Buffalo Sabres at United Center, but it might be another brief stay in the League for the 22-year old playmaking center.

Pirri will replace veteran Michal Handzus and likely center the fourth line against the Sabres, giving Handzus a night off on the last half of a back-to-back set this weekend. Pirri was recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League following Chicago’s 3-2 win at home against the New York Islanders. Jimmy Hayes was sent down to clear a spot.

“We felt Jimmy would play more down there and at the same time Brandon is a fit at center ice for us with Handzus not playing tonight,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ll give him a rest in back-to-back games. That was some of the thought process. We’ll see, he’s here now and hopefully he takes advantage of it.”


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Quote of the Day

I loved being in the jerseys again and they worked some magic for us. It was weird in warm-ups, seeing No. 22 in that jersey and thinking he’s [Mike Gartner], and No. 8 reminds you of Danny Briere … every number had me thinking back to the guys who wore them and smiling.

— Coyotes captain Shane Doan on wearing Kachina-style throwback jerseys in a 3-2 victory against the Canucks on Thursday