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POSTED ON Sunday, 02.17.2013 / 3:50 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Toews talks third NHL fight

CHICAGO – Jonathan Toews has only had three fights in his young career, but the last one left its mark on his right eye.

Toews, a highly-skilled center and captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, scrapped with San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton in the first period of a 4-1 Chicago win at United Center on Friday. He wound up taking a few shots from the much-taller Thornton, but felt like he proved his point regardless.

"I think there’s times where you have to assert yourself and stand up for yourself and I think that’s all it was," Toews said. "You’re not going to see me do that very often and I haven’t in my career. But it is part of the game, and maybe [I did it] for that reason … that you want to buy your time and space and respect out on the ice. I guess that’s something you kind of have to do to prove you deserve it, I guess."

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POSTED ON Sunday, 02.17.2013 / 2:33 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blackhawks turn to Emery with Crawford out

CHICAGO – Corey Crawford is "fine," according to Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who met with reporters prior to the game Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings at United Center.

Still, Crawford (day-to-day, upper body) will not play against the Kings. He also won’t be Ray Emery’s backup for the game (3:30 p.m., NBC). Henrik Karlsson will dress as the Blackhawks backup instead, as

Emery looks to keep an impressive streak going.

Since joining the Blackhawks last season, Emery has a 10-0-3 record at the Madhouse on Madison Street, including a 1-0-0 mark this year – after picking up the win in a 4-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks here on Friday.

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POSTED ON Friday, 02.15.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sheppard ailing, Gomez likely in for Sharks

CHICAGO -- The San Jose Sharks will be without third-line forward James Sheppard when they face the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night at United Center.

Sheppard evidently got injured during an hour-long practice on Thursday in Chicago. San Jose might also have a lineup change coming on the back end, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan didn't specify what that might be.

"We'll look at inserting a new forward [for Sheppard],” McLellan said. "Potential change [on defense, as well]. We'll have to see after the skate how guys feel."

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POSTED ON Friday, 02.15.2013 / 1:08 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Crawford day-to-day; Blackhawks-Sharks lineups

CHICAGO -- Ray Emery will get the start Friday night for the Chicago Blackhawks, but the bigger goaltending story of the day occurred when starter Corey Crawford didn’t participate in the morning skate.

Crawford, who's 7-0-3 with a 1.65 goals-against average, is out with an undisclosed upper-body injury and was listed as day-to-day by Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville after Chicago’s morning skate Friday.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 2:28 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ducks looking forward to their crack at Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- It might be just another game on the schedule, with more points the biggest thing at stake, but Tuesday's matchup at United Center does carry with it a little more interest than normal.

The Anaheim Ducks come into the game knowing they could become the first team this season to hand the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks a regulation loss (10-0-2). That in itself adds a little more spice than normal to a game that features a pair of teams that weren't really discussed much as serious contenders in the Western Conference prior to the season.

The NHL record for most consecutive wins without a regulation loss to start a season is 16, held by the 2006-07 Ducks (12-0-4).

"I think you always want to beat a team that's undefeated," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said Tuesday prior to his team's morning skate. "You always think of it as quite a challenge. They're by and far, right now, the best team in the League. So it's a test for our team."

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 2:18 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Ducks, Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Both the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks had some minor injury updates after their morning skates at United Center on Tuesday.

Joel Quenneville said Daniel Carcillo (knee sprain), Steve Montador (upper body) and Rostislav Olesz (knee) all skated on their own prior to the Blackhawks taking the ice for their team skate. Carcillo was injured in the third period of the season's first game at the Los Angeles Kings, and Montador is believed to be dealing with concussion symptoms that date to last season. Olesz is up with the Blackhawks rehabbing a knee injury that happened late last season in Rockford of the American Hockey League.

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller did get on the ice for the skate at some point in his attempt to return from a lower-body injury that happened last Friday night at the Dallas Stars.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.27.2013 / 6:12 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Crawford gets nod again for Blackhawks

CHICAGO – A couple days off await the Chicago Blackhawks before getting back on the road again for six games, but that wasn’t the only reason coach Joel Quenneville opted to start Corey Crawford on Sunday night at United Center against the visiting Detroit Red Wings.

Crawford got the nod -- his fourth in a row and fifth in six games this season -- because he’s been solid in a starting role for the Blackhawks (5-0-0) – whose five-game win streak to start this season tied the franchise mark set by the 1971-72 team.

“He’s played well this week and we’re going to keep him going,” Quenneville said on Sunday afternoon, prior to playing Detroit (7 p.m. ET, FS-Detroit, CSN-Chicago). “He looks quick. He’s got some momentum, as well, so we’ll give him another crack tonight.”

Through his first four starts, Crawford is 4-0-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. Quenneville said that backup goalie Ray Emery, whose only start was a 6-4 road victory against the Phoenix Coyotes on Jan. 20, will likely return to action during the upcoming road trip.

The Blackhawks won’t play Monday or Tuesday before embarking on a six-game swing that starts on Wednesday at Minnesota and includes back-to-back games next weekend against the rival Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.

“We’ve got two days off and we’ve got three in four nights,” Quenneville said. “I’m sure that Ray’s going to get a game, at least. I don’t want to look too far ahead, but Corey’s deserving of keeping it going and [seeing] how it goes.”

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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.27.2013 / 5:54 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Helm back out of Red Wings' lineup

Darren Helm’s return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup on Friday night against the Minnesota Wild was effective but short lived.

The 26-year old Helm, who’s been hampered by a back injury that happened shortly before training camp, will again be inactive against the rival Chicago Blackhawks (5-0-0) on Sunday night at United Center.

Taking his place in the lineup will be veteran forward Patrick Eaves, who will shift to the right wing of the third line usually centered by Helm – whose spot in the middle will be manned by Justin Abdelkader.

“It’s his back,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who didn’t say whether the injury will continue to be assessed day-to-day or whether Helm might need a longer time off for the injury to heal. “I don’t know if it’s a setback or a new thing. I don’t know. I’m not the doc.”

The Red Wings (2-2-0) are already without Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Ian White (leg laceration), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson. Valtteri Filppula is also playing through a nagging knee injury and Helm now rejoins the list of injured.

“Frustration’s a waste of time,” Babcock said, just a couple hours prior to playing the hottest team in the NHL with a patched-together lineup. “So, let’s just get on with it and win a game.”

Also among the injured for Detroit is defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who’s missed three straight games with hip and shoulder injuries he sustained in Columbus during a practice. Ericsson will be a gametime decision against Chicago and will replace Jakub Kindl if he plays.

Johan FranzenHenrik ZetterbergDamien Brunner

Valtteri FilppulaPavel DatsyukTodd Bertuzzi

Danny ClearyJustin AbdelkaderPatrick Eaves

Drew MillerCory EmmertonJordin Tootoo

Niklas KronwallJonathan Ericsson

Brendan SmithKyle Quincey

Brian LashoffKent Huskins

Jimmy Howard

Tom McCollum

Injured: Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), Ian White (leg laceration),

Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Mikael Samuelsson (groin)

Scratched: Patrick Eaves, Jakub Kindl

Lineup notes: Ericsson is a gametime decision because of hip and shoulder injuries, but he’s expected to return to the lineup soon. Kindl will play if Ericsson, a gametime decision, can’t go.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.27.2013 / 1:23 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Best start in club history in play for Blackhawks

It’s always a big game at United Center when the Detroit Red Wings come to play the Chicago Blackhawks, but Sunday night has the potential to be even more special for the home team.

The Blackhawks (5-0-0) beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on the road Saturday night to win their fifth straight game to start the season, which tied the 1971-72 mark for best record to start a season in franchise history.

This iteration of the Blackhawks can set the new record by beating Detroit on Sunday night (7 p.m., FS-Detroit; CSN-Chicago) – which could mean even more considering the opponent and intense Central Division rivalry.

The Red Wings are missing a number of injured regulars and are still getting used to playing without retired star captain Nicklas Lidstrom on the blue line. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are mostly healthy and getting a lot of production from the “core group” of players who were kept around long term after the 2010 Stanley Cup championship season.

RED WINGS

Johan FranzenHenrik ZetterbergDamien Brunner

Valtteri FilppulaPavel DatsyukTodd Bertuzzi

Justin AbdelkaderDarren HelmDanny Cleary

Drew MillerCory EmmertonJordin Tootoo

Niklas KronwallBrian Lashoff

Brendan SmithJonathan Ericsson

Kyle QuinceyKent Huskins

Jimmy Howard

Tom McCollum

Injured: Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), Ian White (leg laceration),

Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Mikael Samuelsson (groin)

Scratched: Patrick Eaves, Jakub Kindl

Lineup notes: Without skating in the morning, it’s tough to say exactly what Detroit coach Mike Babcock will do with his lineup against the Blackhawks. Ericsson will likely be a gametime decision because of hip and shoulder injuries that are healing up, but he’s expected to return to the lineup by media covering the team on a regular basis.

Lashoff has played pretty well with Kronwall while filling in during all of the injuries, so that makes Kindl the most likely candidate to be scratched against Chicago. Eaves could potentially find himself drawing into the lineup somewhere in the bottom-six forward group, while Helm (back) and Filppula (knee) continue to battle nagging injuries that could potentially take them out of action if they worsen.

BLACKHAWKS

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Patrick SharpDave BollandPatrick Kane

Bryan BickellAndrew ShawViktor Stalberg

Brandon BolligMarcus KrugerMichael Frolik

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook

Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson

Nick LeddyMichal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Ray Emery

Injured: Daniel Carcillo (lower body); Steve Montador (concussion symptoms)

Scratched: Sheldon Brookbank, Jamal Mayers

Lineup notes: Chicago did not hold a morning skate after beating Columbus 3-2 on the road Saturday night. Brookbank played alongside Leddy and Mayers played right wing on the fourth line in place of Frolik. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville may opt for the speedier Frolik against the Red Wings and could go back to Rozsival on the third defense pairing, after he’s played well in three games.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.22.2013 / 2:33 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blackhawks hope to keep home streak alive vs. Blues

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are on a roll coming into their home opener Tuesday at United Center against the St. Louis Blues.

They also have a trend going in their favor in this heated Central Division rivalry, at least on paper.

Dating to Feb. 3, 2010, the Blues (2-0-0) -- who are tied with the Blackhawks (2-0-0) atop the Central with four points -- are winless in Chicago. The team will have its annual red-carpet arrival event prior to the game for fans to cheer the Hawks players and celebrate the start of a new home slate, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock knows his team won't be afforded the same hospitality.

"We usually get our [butts] kicked in this building," Hitchcock said following the team's optional morning practice.

St. Louis is winless in seven straight and is just 1-5-4 in its last 10 visits to United Center. Asked about their run of success at home against the Blues, the Blackhawks didn't think it mattered too much.

In fact, those asked about it didn't even know how long it had been since the Blues had won a game at United Center -- Feb. 3, 2010.

"I didn't even really pay attention to that, to be honest," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith told NHL.com. "Every game against St. Louis is a tough game. They've got a lot of guys who compete hard over there and we're excited about the challenge. You have to play a good game against them, a patient game."

Chicago forward Patrick Kane, who had a goal and added three assists in the Hawks' first two games, thinks the matchup game might play into the lopsided numbers in his team's favor on home ice.

"[The Blues] are very tough to play in their own building and sometimes when you get them here, you get your own matchups and feed off the crowd a little bit," Kane said. "Usually in those games there's a lot of intensity and you can really use that to your advantage. I think tonight's going to be more of the same tonight."

Hitchcock agreed and expected his team to get another good early-season test, one night after a shootout victory in Nashville that he compared to a playoff game in terms of intensity.

"We just want to play well," Hitchcock said when asked about St. Louis' struggles in the Windy City the past few years. "Where Chicago tests you is … defensively. They test your composure under fire. You're not going to get away with giving up double-digit scoring chances. They're just too good. You're going to have to figure out a way to negate those as much as possible, and that's the challenge. Our challenge is to see what we can take away and make them uncomfortable."

Here's a look at how the Blackhawks likely will line up:

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Dave Bolland - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Viktor Stalberg

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Ray Emery

Injured: Daniel Carcillo, Steve Montador

Scratched: Sheldon Brookbank, Jamal Mayers

Lineup notes: Crawford will get the start in net, according to Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. The Hawks did not skate forward lines Tuesday, so it's possible Quenneville might opt to make some minor tweaks against the physically-imposing Blues. Possible changes could include swapping scrappy veteran -- and former Blues player -- Jamal Mayers for fourth-line center Marcus Kruger. Chicago, however, has been pleased with Kruger's play thus far at that spot.

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Once again, it shows character in this dressing room. Once again, there's no quitting in here. We all wanted this so bad and we worked so hard to get home-ice advantage and we weren't going to let this one slide.

— Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog on his team's OT Game 1 win vs. Minnesota Wild