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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:50 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Relieved Sharp one of 10 Blackhawks going to Sochi

CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp tried not to think about the 2014 Sochi Olympics much, but even he couldn't help it as Canada's scheduled roster revealing neared Tuesday morning.

The 32-year old Sharp, from Thunder Bay, Ontario, started mulling his chances to make the Canadian roster last week, after recording his second hat trick in a seven-day span. It was on his mind ever since, even as he stepped into the shower Tuesday morning before heading to practice.

That's when the phone rang.

"I just got out of the shower and had a voice mail," Sharp said. "I had my phone with me the whole time. I was surprised I didn't have it in the shower with me. I got a call from Doug Armstrong, the GM of St. Louis, and I called him back as soon as I could and he didn't answer. I listed to the voice mail a couple more times and confirmed that I was going. He called me right back and we had a good talk. It was a special moment."

Posted On Sunday, 01.05.2014 / 1:50 PM

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

Sharks look to copy Hawks' style as they visit Chicago

CHICAGO – A few years ago, the Chicago Blackhawks made no secret of their goal to become a franchise just like the Detroit Red Wings.

After winning the Stanley Cup twice in the past four seasons, they've accomplished that goal. Other teams are now striving to be young, fast and high-powered at both ends of the rink, just like them.

The San Jose Sharks are one of those teams. San Jose (26-10-8) is in town to face the Blackhawks on Sunday night at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and coach Todd McLellan isn't coy about who sets the NHL's standard bar for excellence.

"They have to be the bar," McLellan said of the Blackhawks. "You don't win two out of [four] and not be the bar. So, whether they like it or not, and I'm sure they do like it, they are the bar. That comes with success. That comes with expectations. Teams will try and emulate their plan, the way they've built, the way they carry themselves and the way they execute on the ice, because it's been proven to be successful."

The Sharks in particular are one of those teams that appear to be emulating what makes Chicago tick. They even have two members of the Blackhawks roster that won the Stanley Cup in 2010: goalie Antti Niemi and forward Adam Burish.

Posted On Monday, 12.30.2013 / 2:42 PM

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

Blackhawks' Crawford hopes to return this week

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are close to getting their top goalie back.

Corey Crawford, who has missed nine straight games with a lower-body injury that's reportedly a groin issue, said he felt "great" after participating in the Blackhawks' morning skate Monday at United Center.

Crawford won't dress Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2), but is set to make his return during a pending two-game road trip to play back-to-back at the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils on Thursday and Friday.

"I feel great," said Crawford, who skated in a team workout for the first time since leaving the lineup Dec. 8 at home against the Florida Panthers. "After the Christmas break everything's gone well. I haven't felt the injury at all on the ice, so I'm ready to go."


Posted On Friday, 12.27.2013 / 7:38 PM

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

Blackhawks look to strike back against Avalanche

CHICAGO -- Among all the record breakdowns, the only one that's close to marginal for the Chicago Blackhawks is against Central Division teams.

Chicago is 8-6-1 against teams in its division with a back-to-back set this weekend against the two closest teams to the Blackhawks in the Central, the third-place Colorado Avalanche and second-place St. Louis Blues.

The Blackhawks (26-7-6) will host the Avalanche (23-10-3) on Friday at United Center and then make the trip to play the Blues on Saturday at Scottrade Center.

"It's nice being at the top of the League in the standings, but you know these division games are [against] teams you face a lot," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. "It'd be nice to get a little better record than that and improve. I guess we have some games ahead of us that we can do that in the next two."

Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 2:08 PM

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

Blackhawks provide pre-break challenge for Devils

CHICAGO -- The New Jersey Devils will head into the Christmas break by playing the defending Stanley Cup champions Monday at United Center.

"I could think of better places to end," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said, laughing. "But you've got to come here at some point. Our guys are excited for the challenge."

The NHL-leading Blackhawks (25-7-6) are looking forward to it after falling 3-2 in a shootout against theVancouver Canucks on Friday. They'd like to get back on a winning track before getting three days off for the holiday.

Chicago hasn't faced New Jersey since the 2011-12 season and hasn't beaten the Devils at United Center since a 5-1 victory Dec. 31, 2009. The Blackhawks haven't beaten the Devils regardless of location since April 2, 2010 at Prudential Center.

Posted On Friday, 12.20.2013 / 1:38 PM

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

Facing Canucks still gets Blackhawks' juices flowing

CHICAGO -- Each side has undergone changes but enough familiarity remains between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks for their Stanley Cup Playoffs-fueled rivalry to continue.

The Canucks (20-11-6) make their first visit to United Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN) to face the Blackhawks (25-7-5), who won the first game between the teams this season 2-1 on Nov. 23 at Rogers Arena.

"I don't think it's changed, especially when we went in there [in November] and it was a heck of a game there," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said following Chicago's morning skate. "Last time we were in there and last year's games were very competitive. I still think that every game it brings back memories quickly."

Posted On Thursday, 12.19.2013 / 2:20 PM

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

Red Wings maintaining faith in Weiss

DETROIT -- It's still too early to call the Stephen Weiss signing a bust, according to Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

Weiss, who will see a specialist in Philadelphia on Friday about his injured groin, has two goals and four points in 26 games for Detroit since signing a contract this past summer for a reported five years and $24.5 million.

"I don't care what sport you are, when you look at an athlete you look at what they've accomplished over a period of time," Holland said after Detroit's morning skate Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. "Every athlete probably has one year that's way better than the norm and one year worse than the norm, but there's a lot of statistics that are somewhat similar. When you look at the book on Weiss, it says 48 points five of the last seven years."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 4:10 PM

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

Red Wings, Ducks navigating through injuries

DETROIT -- The Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings haven't faced each other since Detroit pulled off an upset in a seven-game Western Conference Quarterfinals series last spring.

They'll share the same ice surface again Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena, but the circumstances are quite a bit different.

Anaheim has 51 points and leads the Pacific Division, while the injury-plagued Red Wings are currently fourth in the Atlantic Division after moving to the Eastern Conference.

"The feeling's still in your stomach that you lost in a Game 7 after the season that we had," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said following Anaheim's morning skate Tuesday. "I don't know if there's ever any real personal feelings other than we got beat and these are the guys that beat us. We just want to get back on the horse and make sure [we] can compete with these teams."


Posted On Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 5:47 PM

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

Kings, Blackhawks face off in playoff rematch

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks are ready to pick up where they left off last spring.

Two of the top three teams in the Western Conference will face each other Sunday night at United Center for the first time since Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane scored 11:40 into the second overtime of Game 5, in the same arena, to end their 2013 Western Conference Final series.

Each team is finding ways to win without their top goalie, but the results Saturday were split. The Kings, who are still without goalie Jonathan Quick (groin), beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 at Canadian Tire Centre before the Blackhawks, playing without Corey Crawford (lower body), lost 7-3 to theToronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre to end a three-game winning streak.

Los Angeles also extended its streak of not allowing a first-period goal to 18 straight games and has a record of 13-1-4 in that span.

Posted On Wednesday, 12.11.2013 / 6:08 PM

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

Flyers to give Emery start against Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- From a plot perspective, Ray Emery's return to the Windy City couldn't have worked out any better.

The Chicago Blackhawks (22-6-5), with whom Emery won the 2013 Stanley Cup, are playing with a rookie in net because of lower-body injuries sidelining top goalie Corey Crawford and backup Nikolai Khabibulin (signed over the summer to replace Emery).

The Blackhawks could probably use a proven veteran like Emery during the next couple weeks, despite Antti Raanta making an impressive start to his NHL career with a 4-0-1 record, 2.14 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

Instead, Emery will be in net for the Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-3) on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

"Ray's been good for us this year and we use him, but it's good to get him in this game tonight," Flyers coach Craig Berube said following his team's morning skate. "He had a great year last year with [Chicago] and won a Cup, so he's looking forward to it."

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Quote of the Day

That's today's game. That's one of the things you have to deal with when you're a championship team. Guys are going to earn more money based on their performance and what they've achieved, [and] deservedly so. [Saad] falls into that category.

— Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Brandon Saad, who was traded by Chicago to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason