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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 4:51 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Stoll back in Kings lineup for Game 1

CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll returned to the lineup for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks after sitting out the final six games of the conference semifinals.

Stoll was injured in Game 1 against the San Jose Sharks when he was hit high by Raffi Torres, who was suspended for the duration of that series.

Stoll took line rushes in pregame warmups as the third-line center between Dwight King and Trevor Lewis. Tyler Toffoli, who played in Game 7 against the Sharks, had to be scratched in order for Stoll to return.

Stoll shed his non-contact jersey and practiced in his normal spot Friday.

Faceoffs, where he won 56 percent of his draws during the regular season, and penalty killing was where Stoll was missed most.

"If you look at our faceoff percentage last series, it's down quite a bit … and he's a big part of that," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "I think we only got above 50 percent in one game. He still has an effect on our team when he’s not in the lineup, but from an X's and O's standpoint we're strong up the middle and a lot of that's because he's in the [third center] spot."

Here are the lineups for the Kings and Blackhawks based on pregame warmups:

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 3:36 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings sharing hotel with 'Star Trek' convention

CHICAGO -- During the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Sharks, the Los Angeles Kings shared hotel space with a large Anime convention while playing their games at San Jose's HP Pavilion.

When the Kings checked into their hotel Thursday for the start of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, they weren't even fazed by the "Star Trek" convention being held there this weekend.

"Actually, this is pretty tame compared to what we saw in San Jose," Kings captain Dustin Brown said Saturday morning prior to the series opener at United Center (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). "That was Anime, so that one was a little more bizarre."

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 7:04 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks try to move size throughout lineup

CHICAGO -- After grinding out a Western Conference Semifinal win in seven games against the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks returned to practice Friday prior to the start of a conference final against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at United Center (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville juggled his forward lines for the workout from what he used in the 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 against Detroit and appears to be looking for more size up front by adding 6-foot-4, 233-pound power forward Bryan Bickell as the left wing for 6-2, 208-pound Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews.

“I think he’s earned that opportunity [with] how he’s played,” Quenneville said of Bickell, who’s one of Chicago’s top scorers this postseason with five goals and one assist. “Not just his production offensively but physically he’s been engaged and he’s got some speed and he’s had a lot of puck time. When he did get the opportunity [against Detroit] to move up with those guys he did a great job. I think it gives a little more size and presence on that line.”

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 5:02 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Red Wings tinker with look of power play

CHICAGO -- The Detroit Red Wings might tweak the look of their power play for Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinal against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

During their morning skate, the Red Wings practiced the power play using somewhat of an umbrella scheme, with only defenseman Niklas Kronwall at the point. Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen were on the flanks with Justin Abdelkader in front of the net and Henrik Zetterberg roaming.

"We tried it out in practice," Abdelkader said. "We'll see what happens in the game, if it stays or not, but if it does we've just got to shoot pucks and get second chances, second rebounds and break them down. Power plays always start with a shot, so we've got to make sure we're shooting, getting pucks back and taking them to the net."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 6:04 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Frolik in NHL record book with 2nd penalty shot

CHICAGO -- Michael Frolik couldn’t believe it when he looked at his phone following Monday's game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Chicago Blackhawks forward had quite a few text messages waiting for him after he scored the eventual game-winning goal on a penalty shot in the third period of a 4-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

The Original Six rivals will conclude the series Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But Frolik's legend has already grown, as his mobile phone kept reminding him Monday night.

"It kept ringing after the game," Frolik said. "That was kind of nice. It's amazing how many people follow that. I was happy to hear from so many people."

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 7:21 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Blackhawks unite fans of Cubs, White Sox

CHICAGO -- It's almost like a holiday in the Windy City whenever the White Sox and Cubs face each other, especially if you like your holidays spiced with bitterness, jealously and downright hatred.

In this city, fans are typically either White Sox black or Cubby blue with no exceptions made -- or love lost -- on either side. Monday night at the White Sox's U.S. Cellular Field, however, the "neutral" colors were red and black, the main color scheme of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks.

Thanks to Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Blackhawks and rival Detroit Red Wings starting at 7 p.m. Central -- a potential elimination game for Chicago -- the opening game of the annual Cubs-Sox rivalry was forced to share the spotlight.

How much baseball watching will be going on at the ballpark?

"Uh, not a lot," said Tim Light, of Burr Ridge, Ill., who attended the game with his Cubs-fan wife, Debby and proudly wore a Jonathan Toews alternate Blackhawks jersey. "As soon as 7 o'clock comes around, I'll be watching the hockey game."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 6:15 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Blackhawks' Keith on octopus: 'That thing's gross'

CHICAGO – Prior to a game at Joe Louis Arena last week, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith skated over to chat with Detroit Red Wings Zamboni driver Al Sobotka following the national anthem.

Sobotka, who’s taken care of the ice at ‘The Joe’ for 30 years, has become famous for scooping up octopuses thrown on the playing surface for luck and swinging them over his head to fire up the crowd as he removes them.

The one hurled near the end of the anthem prior to Game 4 of a Western Conference Semifinals series between the Original Six rivals caught Keith’s attention.

“Oh I just wanted to look at that thing,” Keith said on Sunday, prior to flying back to Detroit for Game 6 on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN,CBC, RDS). “I’d never seen something like that, that big.”


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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 6:03 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Lineup changes sparked Blackhawks in Game 5

CHICAGO – The lineup changes that Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville made before Saturday night’s game at United Center appear to have worked.

Quenneville put three of his top four star forwards on the top line – Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – while also switching around the other three combinations. He also changed his defense pairings back to the way they were to start the season, after splitting all three up on March 31 in Detroit and keeping then that way.

The result was a 45-shot, 4-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of this Western Conference Semifinal series. The win forced a Game 6, which will be played Monday at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The Red Wings are up 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, but Chicago’s stretch passes and ability to chase down pucks dumped into the Detroit zone behind defenders loosened up the Detroit defense.


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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 1:53 AM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Blackhawks finally convert on power play

CHICAGO – It was getting to the point with the Chicago Blackhawks' power play where fans started wishing their favorite team could just decline penalties the way they can in football.

Coming into Saturday night's Game 5 of a Western Conference Semifinal series against the rival Detroit Red Wings at United Center, the Blackhawks were 1-for-12 (8.3 percent) in the series on the man-advantage and 3-for-25 (12 percent) in nine games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even worse, in Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena – a 2-0 Detroit victory that gave the Red Wings a commanding 3-1 series lead – Chicago managed to just one shot on goal in three power-play opportunities. The Blackhawks actually topped that number by one shot while shorthanded in that game.

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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 5:54 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Toews, Blackhawks seek 'controlled emotion'

CHICAGO -- After Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews picked up his third penalty in less than six minutes Thursday night, defenseman Brent Seabrook skated over and settled him down while he sat in the penalty box.

The normally staid Toews came a little unglued in the second period of Game 4 in Chicago's Western Conference Semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings, especially after the first infraction, a high-sticking call he adamantly disputed, resulted in what turned out to be the winning goal in a 2-0 result.

After picking up another high-sticking call for his third straight penalty -- this one much more blatant -- Toews angrily headed toward the box while Seabrook, who's had his own struggles, took action.

"He looked frustrated and I don't know if that was a reason for the penalties," said Seabrook, whose ice time has dropped dramatically the past two games. "It was a little bit of bad luck with his stick. I just tried to calm him down and we need him. He's the best player on the team and our leader. If the rest of the group sees him like that it's going to trickle down.

"We need him to be focused and ready and I just told him to sit down and take a couple of deep breaths and get ready to be back out there because we need him."

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— Martin Brodeur, after announcing his retirement as an NHL player and becoming a senior adviser with the Blues on Thursday