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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 2:40 PM

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

Blackhawks get day of rest after OT win

CHICAGO – A day after opening the Stanley Cup Playoffs by winning an overtime game against the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks stayed off the ice.

The Blackhawks did not practice at United Center, which will be the site of Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series, which got off to a nail-biting start Tuesday night with Chicago’s 2-1 win in OT.

That meant goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland, who each missed the series opener with a lower-body injury, had another day off to rest and recover. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville met with reporters Wednesday and gave a brief update on the injured duo, whose availability for Game 2 on Friday is up in the air.

"I don’t know about Game 2, but hopefully they’ll be skating [Thursday]," Quenneville said. “We’re hopeful on that, but I don’t want to comment too much on Friday right now with them.”

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.30.2013 / 3:09 PM

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

Scandella excited to make Stanley Cup Playoff debut

CHICAGO -- After playing one regular-season game with the Minnesota Wild this season, 23-year-old defenseman Marco Scandella was recalled from Houston of the American Hockey League Monday. He will play alongside Jared Spurgeon in Game 1 of the Wild's series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) in a whirlwind couple of days that took him from the American Hockey League playoffs to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I'm super-excited," said Scandella, who has 89 games of NHL experience but will skate in his first NHL playoff game. "I've been watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs my whole life and I've been playing hockey to be a part of it. I was just focused on playing the [AHL] playoffs … so it's not like I saw it coming. I was just happy about it and I'm ready."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.30.2013 / 2:56 PM

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

Kane's mullet returning, and this time it's not alone

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have been asked quite a few important questions in the past few weeks leading into the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but one got answered for good Tuesday at United Center.

Patrick Kane decided he would grow his annual playoff mullet, complete with steps shaved into each side, like he first did to start the 2010 postseason run that ended with him scoring the winning goal in overtime of Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Final.

Only this time, Kane isn't alone. Rookie right wing Brandon Saad is mimicking Kane's "business up front, party in the back" look for his second go-round in the postseason -- steps in the side an all.

"It's pretty short right now," Kane said. "Hopefully, it will have some time to grow in. We have myself and a new addition to the team this year that wanted to do it too. Saad joined in on the mullet trend and his looks pretty good. It's a little fun."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.30.2013 / 2:13 PM

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

Wild's Pominville out for Game 1 vs. Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville will not play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday at United Center in Game 1 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinals series (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Pominville has an upper-body injury that stems from an illegal hit to the head by Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown during a game April 23 at Xcel Energy Center. Brown was suspended two games for the hit, and Pominville hasn't played since.

He was able to practice at left wing on the third line Monday, but Pominville didn't get the clearance to play in Game 1.

"[He's] just not quite ready," Wild coach Mike Yeo said following Minnesota's morning skate. "This is a big game, but you've got to look at the big picture and we've got to make sure that when we get him back in, we get him back in for good."

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Posted On Friday, 04.26.2013 / 2:40 PM

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

Blackhawks will stick with same lineup Friday

CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks will use their regular lineup Friday night against the Calgary Flames (8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) prior to wrapping up their regular season on the road Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.

The Blackhawks recalled defenseman Ryan Stanton from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Friday, but coach Joel Quenneville said more prospects will likely make the trip to St, Louis on Saturday to give some regulars a breather prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week.

After wrapping up first in the Western Conference and earning the Presidents’ Trophy for posting the best record in the National Hockey League, Chicago has the luxury of not worrying about these final two games.

“We’re going to play our group tonight and [Saturday] we might be resting some guys,” Quenneville said after Friday’s morning skate at United Center.

Goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland are both out against Calgary with lower-body injuries and neither will make the trip to St. Louis. Corey Crawford will start in goal against the Flames, while backup Carter Hutton might get the nod against the Blues.

Quenneville said he’s not concerned about Bolland’s injury and expects him to be ready for the playoffs, which in the past has been when the gritty centerman shines brightest. However, the Blackhawks coach hinted on Friday that veteran Michal Handzus might get a look at second-line center – between stars Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane – even when Bolland returns.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 12:50 PM

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

Franzen expects to play in Wings' possible clincher

DETROIT -- Johan Franzen said he's confident he will play Thursday at Joe Louis Arena when the Detroit Red Wings take on the Nashville Predators in a game with potentially big Stanley Cup Playoff implications.

Franzen, who scored his 14th goal of the season in a 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, didn't go back onto the ice for the last few minutes of the game. His status was undetermined afterward and no description of an injury was given -- only that Franzen wasn't available to go back on the ice despite staying on the bench.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock still didn't know whether Franzen would be available after Detroit's optional morning skate Thursday, but the Swedish power forward said he'd likely be in uniform. He also said his absence from the ice in the waning minutes of Wednesday's game isn't cause for alarm.

"Just got a little rest, no need to play those last minutes (with a two-goal lead)," said Franzen, who has six goals and 11 points in the past six games. "I thought I'd get off and take the rest, so that's it.''

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 1:25 PM

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

Bertuzzi's return to Red Wings pushed back a day

DETROIT -- The hope was to get Detroit Red Wings veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi back on the ice Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena for a key game against the Los Angeles Kings.

Instead, Bertuzzi will sit out for at least one more game and hopes to return for Thursday's home game against the Nashville Predators. Bertuzzi hasn't played since Feb. 7 against the St. Louis Blues because of a painful pinched nerve in his back.

He's been skating for a while, but hasn't been able to do much conditioning work on the ice until lately. That, according to Bertuzzi, is why he isn't ready to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings on Wednesday night.

"I'll be ready to play [Thursday]," Bertuzzi said after working extra following Wednesday's morning skate. "I needed another hard skate. Like I said before, a week ago, I can't come in and not be ready to play a full 60 [minutes] and help out, contribute, be big down low, finish my checks. I needed another hard skate and that's what we just finished."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock sounded both surprised and disappointed upon learning Bertuzzi's status for the game against the Kings.

"I thought he was going today," Babcock said. "Nothing made me hesitate. It wasn't my decision."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 2:12 PM

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

Smith could start for Coyotes against Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Phoenix Coyotes could use a boost heading into the last five games of the regular season and might get one Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. ET) at United Center.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said after Saturday’s morning skate that injured goalie Mike Smith, who missed the past two games with a lower-body issue, might return to face Chicago (34-5-4) in a big road game for the Coyotes (18-17-8).

“I haven’t talked to him yet, but there’s a chance he’ll play tonight,” Tippett said. “He’s our No. 1 goaltender. If we can get him in there and get him on a roll, that gives us the best chance to win.”

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Posted On Friday, 04.19.2013 / 1:42 PM

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

Blackhawks staying the course with lineup for now

CHICAGO -- All that's left for the Chicago Blackhawks to accomplish in the regular season is to secure the Presidents' Trophy as the NHLs top team in points earned.

Otherwise, the Blackhawks have already locked up everything else. They were the first team to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they won the Central Division handily, and they will be the Western Conference's top seed in the postseason. They've done all that and still have six games left, which raises the question if they will continue playing their usual lineup or start sitting out key players to avoid injuries and garner rest.

The answer, at least short term, is to stay the course. Chicago plays back-to-back games at United Center this weekend, beginning with Friday's contest against the Nashville Predators (7:30 p.m.) and finishing against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.

"I think we want to go in the same mode here," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Friday's morning skate. "We've still got six games [left]. We've got a busy schedule next week, but we'll play these games and go along here and we'll make those decisions as we go along. We're not going to change going into these two games. We'll see. We have that in our pocket to visit with, for sure, but that depends."

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Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 7:34 PM

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

Sharp to sit again for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp will sit out again on Monday night when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Los Angeles Kings at United Center.

Sharp didn't dress for Sunday's 2-0 victory at St. Louis. He had played in Chicago's previous two games against Minnesota and Detroit after missing 14 games with an upper-body injury.

"He's out," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We expect him on the ice [for a workout Tuesday], so we'll say day-to-day."

The Blackhawks have already locked up the Central Division title; next up is assuring themselves of first place in the Western Conference before the playoffs start at the end of April.

Quenneville said he's not worried about Sharp getting enough action to be ready for the playoffs.

"I think there's enough time to get ready, be it practice or … he'll be skating," he said. "There should be ample time to get going."

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Quote of the Day

This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares