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Posted On Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 2:45 PM

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

Saad's versatility key for Blackhawks with Hossa out

CHICAGO -- A combination of skill and versatility make Brandon Saad a valuable asset for the Chicago Blackhawks, who are prepared to lean heavily on the second-year forward to fill in for injured Marian Hossa.

Saad's two-way style is even starting to resemble Hossa's, so it's not too surprising he'll get the first look to fill the Blackhawks' vacant spot at right wing on the top line Tuesday night at United Center in a big game against the Colorado Avalanche.

After playing all of last season on the left side of that line, Saad has shifted around the lineup this season. He's played on both wings, on the second and third lines, and even dabbled a bit at center in training camp. That experience could now pay off in a pinch for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who expect to be without Hossa for 2-3 weeks.

"It's huge to have depth on a team," Saad said following Chicago's morning skate. "Injuries are going to happen, so I think with the team we have and the depth we have, it's why we had success before. To be able to fill those roles or take [people's] places as best you can, it's a huge help to the team."

Posted On Saturday, 03.01.2014 / 9:03 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014 Trade Deadline blog

Blackhawks' Bowman prepared to stand pat

CHICAGO -- Those wondering if the Chicago Blackhawks will counter the blockbuster trade pulled off by the St. Louis Blues on Friday can stop now.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman provided an answer Saturday night at Soldier Field before his team faced the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final game of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

Rather than making a move in response to the Blues acquiring goalie Ryan Miller and center Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, Bowman said the defending Stanley Cup champions plan to stand pat heading into the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday afternoon (3 p.m. ET).

"I think you can't be reactionary that way," Bowman, who's been at the helm for Chicago's Stanley Cup titles in 2010 and 2013. "Those guys haven't even played a game yet in St. Louis. You kind of have to see how it all shakes out, but we're more focused on what we can do. We have to play good hockey."

Posted On Sunday, 01.26.2014 / 5:45 PM

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

Keith returns, but Blackhawks to alter lineup

CHICAGO -- Duncan Keith will return to the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night at United Center, but another lineup change is coming.

"We might have seven defensemen [playing]," Blackhawks coach Joel Quennevillle told reporters two hours before puck drop against the Winnipeg Jets.

Keith missed Chicago's last game while sick and Chicago lost 2-1 against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center and also missed practice Saturday. Getting him back should help the Blackhawks' puck possession, but Quenneville's news that one of the forwards will likely sit in favor of a defensemen raised a few eyebrows.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 12:51 PM

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

Red Wings get Ericsson back against Blackhawks

DETROIT -- They're still dealing with a glut of injuries, but the Detroit Red Wings are slowly starting to get some players back into their lineup.

The latest is top-pair defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who will play Wednesday night against the rival Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). Ericsson, who's missed two 10-game stints for separate injuries, said he's "good to go," now that a broken rib that sidelined him since late December is healed enough to play.

"It's been [feeling] good, I just knew it was going to take some time," Ericsson said. "I know it was something that wasn't going to get better overnight, so I've been patient about it, I've been trying to stay positive and all that. ... I think the healing process has been faster maybe than they thought, so that's good."

Posted On Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 10:32 AM

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

Blackhawks' Kane sees Crosby as measuring stick

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane has learned this season that he's no Sidney Crosby.

Not yet, anyway.

The 25-year old Kane, who leads the Chicago Blackhawks in scoring, was hot on the heels of the Pittsburgh Penguins' captain in the NHL points race a couple weeks ago. He's since fallen off Crosby's lead pace of 68 points by 12 points.

"He produces every night," Kane said of Crosby (25 goals and 43 assists). "He's fun to watch. Even on nights where he maybe doesn't have his best game, he still comes out of there with two assists or a goal and an assist. Then there's games where it seems like he's determined, and he's the best player in the world and just dominates the game. You're like, 'Wow, this guy is amazing.' I think he's the best the player in the League for sure."

Heading into the Blackhawks' game Sunday against the Boston Bruins at United Center (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, NHLN-CA), Kane (23 goals and 33 assists) ranks fourth in scoring. He's still having a magnificent season, on pace for what would be a career-high 92 points, but Kane has gone nine straight games without scoring a goal. He has one goal and five assists in the past 10 games.

Posted On Friday, 01.17.2014 / 3:50 PM

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

Blackhawks will have Seabrook, Hossa vs. Ducks

CHICAGO -- Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa will each play for the Chicago Blackhawks when they face the red-hot Anaheim Ducks on Friday night at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NHLN).

After both missed Chicago's practice on Thursday, they joined teammates on the ice Friday for the Blackhawks' morning skate. Seabrook missed practice Thursday with an illness and Hossa was held out for a "maintenance day," according to Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.

The Ducks (36-8-5), who have won eight straight games and 18 of their last 19, made a couple moves Friday. They sent defenseman Luca Sbisa and goalie John Gibson to Norfolk of the American Hockey League, with Sbisa's trip a two-game conditioning assignment following a torn tendon in his right hand that's sidelined him for 24 games.


Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 8:43 PM

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

Avalanche's Sarich a late scratch vs. Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Colorado Avalanche planned to play seven defensemen Tuesday night at United Center, but Cory Sarich was a late scratch with a reported back issue.

Sarich's absence left the Avalanche with 17 skaters against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.


Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 2:56 PM

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

Avalanche forward Stastny out vs. Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Colorado Avalanche are going through a tough stretch with injuries and the picture didn't get much better Tuesday at United Center.

Center Paul Stastny did not participate in the morning skate because of an undisclosed leg injury that forced him to leave Colorado's previous game Friday at the Minnesota Wild and will not face the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. Stastny, who has 13 goals and 21 assists in 43 games, also sat out practice Monday.

"He's day-to-day and he's not ready to play [Tuesday]," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "We're going to play seven [defensemen] because Paul's not ready. We're going to have 20 guys, so everybody's going to have their share of ice time, I guess."

Posted On Sunday, 01.12.2014 / 5:59 PM

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

Dubnyk starting for Oilers, Blackhawks after sweep

CHICAGO -- Ilya Bryzgalov was supposed to start Sunday night at United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks, but Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins decided to scrap that plan.

Eakins said after his team's morning skate Sunday that Devan Dubnyk will get the nod after picking up a 4-3 win in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night at Rexall Place.

The Blackhawks (29-8-10) and Oilers (15-27-5) will conclude their season series with Chicago looking for a sweep after winning by scores of 5-4 and 5-1 in the first two games.

"We're going to go back with Devan," Eakins said. "As I've said before, your plans with goalies ... I shake my head at myself. Why even do it? It always changes. We are going to go back with Devan. We thought he played well and thought the team played well in front of him."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 2:24 PM

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

Blackhawks looking to get more out of Bickell

CHICAGO -- A season after making himself a big factor in the Chicago Blackhawks winning the 2013 Stanley Cup and earning a sizable new contract, Bryan Bickell is now searching for that magic.

Instead of causing havoc for opposing goalies and defensemen, the 6-foot-4, 233-pound forward is spending more time sitting on the bench of late, coming to a head this past Sunday when he watched the third period and overtime of a 3-2 shootout loss against the San Jose Sharks.

"Well, it's not good," Bickell said of logging just 5:20 and nine shifts. "You want to be out there to help your team win, especially last game in a close game, to have that goal or a hit to change momentum. But I've learned from the experience and I've got to bounce back from it."

He'll get a chance Wednesday night at United Center against the New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). Prior to the season, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville hoped Bickell might approach the 30-goal plateau, but those expectations quickly tempered after a slow start. Bickell, who has six goals and eight points in 31 games, shifted from his top-line spot to his more familiar role at left wing on the third line.

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In respect to the organization and my teammates, it was the best move. When I look back at my career and all the different things I had to overcome, I have no regrets. It was great.

— Devils captain Bryce Salvador on retiring from the National Hockey League Wednesday
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