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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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Posted On Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 5:19 PM

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

Blackhawks tweak lines, power-play combinations

CHICAGO -- It appears Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville might stick with a slight change in his forward lines that he put together during Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinal series Monday against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Blackhawks lost 3-1 at Joe Louis Arena and trail 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But Quenneville saw something he liked from flip-flopping his top two left wings, rookie Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.

Saad dropped to the second line to play with center Dave Bolland and right wing Patrick Kane, and Sharp moved up to play the left side of the top line with center Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa.

They stayed that way for line rushes during practice Wednesday at United Center, but Quenneville was still non-committal, officially, when asked about it afterward.

"We'll see on the lines," he said. "I know that it's something we'll talk about going into the game."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.21.2013 / 4:55 PM

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

Faceoffs, puck movement concerns for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks put 40 shots on goal, played much better overall and still lost 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.

The loss put Detroit up 2-1 in what's become a heated Original Six Western Conference Semifinal, but Chicago isn't showing signs of panic.

The core group of stars that powers the Blackhawks also was down 2-1 in the conference quarterfinals against the Nashville Predators at one point in 2010 before coming back to win that series and eventually the Stanley Cup.

"I think we played well [Monday night]," said Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who was on the 2010 championship team. "There were a lot of chances that we could've scored on. We battled really hard and I think it was a pretty good effort overall. They just scored more goals than we did. As long as the battle effort is there, you can't really be too upset with the loss."

Game 4 of the best-of-7 series is Thursday night at Detroit (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2) and each side knows how pivotal it could be.

"We all know the importance of the next game there in [Joe Louis Arena]," Hjalmarsson said. "We’re all focused on that task and looking forward to it."

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