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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 4:40 PM

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

Blackhawks' top line staying confident

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa worked well together all season as the top-line combination for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Through four games of a Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild, however, all they've produced is one goal and one assist -- each credited to Hossa and coming without assistance from Toews or Saad.

The Wild, who trail 3-1 in the best-of-7 series heading into Game 5 on Thursday at United Center (9:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN), are getting good results by playing their top defense pairing against the Blackhawks' top line.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 4:27 PM

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

Blackhawks hoping to cure power-play woes

CHICAGO -- It started fine, hit a lull, picked up at the end of the regular season and now the power play is back to troubling for the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Chicago is up 3-1 in its Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild, with a chance to close it in Game 5 Thursday at United Center (9:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN), but getting better results with the man-advantage is on the Blackhawks' list of things to do.

Chicago has scored on one of its first 11 power plays in the series (9.1 percent) after finishing 19th in the regular season (16.7 percent).

"It's definitely something we've talked a lot about," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said Wednesday. "The units have switched a lot throughout the season, but whoever's out there, you've just got to take pride in being out there and making something happen."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:55 PM

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

Bolland, Emery still 'doubtful' for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -– Leading 3-1 in the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks stayed off the ice Wednesday, including injured goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland.

Emery and Bolland have missed the first four games of the series each with a lower-body injury, and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said the pair is doubtful to play in Game 5 on Thursday at United Center (9:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN).

"Nobody skated [Wednesday], but they’re both fine," Quenneville said. "[They’re both] doubtful for [Thursday]."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 5:48 PM

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

Teams expect Xcel Energy Center to be rocking

CHICAGO -- The Stanley Cup Playoffs haven't taken place in St. Paul, Minn., since 2008 and the atmosphere inside Xcel Energy Center on Sunday afternoon is expected to be exciting.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild will square off in Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) and the visiting team ought to be a good judge of the playoff atmosphere inside the building.

The Blackhawks are known for having a loud, intimidating crowd at United Center -- starting with the loud cheers during the national anthem -- but they're anticipating the Wild's arena to be like the team's nickname.

"I think it's going to be loud," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said Saturday. "The fans there and the way they play the music … they get that building rocking pretty good. It's the first time they've played in the playoffs for a while, so we expect it's going to be a lot of energy in that building and a fast-paced game. We're going to need to be ready right away."
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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:56 PM

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

Blackhawks show they can neutralize Wild forecheck

CHICAGO -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo said on Friday night it was time to go back to the drawing board for Sunday's Game 3 of a Western Conference Quarterfinals series his team trails 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks.

After the Blackhawks won Game 2 by a 5-2 score on Friday night at United Center, Yeo said one area that will need to be tweaked again is a forechecking scheme that proved ineffective against the Blackhawks' swift-skating, puck-moving defensemen.

The Wild worked on creating havoc with the forecheck in a practice between the first two games, but the Blackhawks weren't fazed much at all by it -- dominating puck possession and breaking out of their own zone with a head of steam regularly.

"Part of our strength is our defensemen's ability to get pucks out of our zone and our forwards have done a good job of coming back all year supporting, so that makes it a lot easier on the defense when our forwards get back in position to help out," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "Minnesota's got a lot of good skaters and they're fast, so it's not easy. They get in, on the forecheck, really quick. Guys like Zach Parise are fast getting in there, so we have to be ready."


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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 2:47 PM

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

Wild confident Harding can stay sharp

CHICAGO – The Minnesota Wild hope to even their Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night at United Center (9:30 pm E.T., NBCSN, CBC, CSN-CH, FS-N) but won't have starting goalie Niklas Backstrom or defenseman Clayton Stoner.

Backstrom will miss his second straight game after incurring a lower-body injury in warmups prior to Game 1 on Tuesday, and Stoner is out with an unspecified injury that happened early in the first period of the series opener on a big hit by Chicago's Andrew Shaw.

Josh Harding, who played well when pressed into service at the last second because of Backstom's injury, will get the start again. Justin Falk will enter Minnesota’s lineup in place of Stoner. Before Tuesday's games, Harding hadn't made an NHL start since Jan. 30, when he played at home against the Blackhawks and got pulled in the first period after allowing two goals on four shots.

After making 35 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1 on Tuesday, Harding is looking to have another strong performance Friday night.

"I'd sure like to hope so," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "For him, there are a lot of positives to take out of the game, and I think as much as anything else, it's the confidence of going out and playing well in a game like that. For a guy who's missed a lot of hockey, he's played good hockey and it's just kind of a statement to himself that, 'I'm getting my game [back].'"

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Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 2:05 PM

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

Emery, Bolland again ruled out for Game 2

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks again be without goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland when they face the Minnesota Wild on Friday night at United Center in Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Emery and Bolland, each out with a lower-body injury believed to be a groin issue, are making progress but not quite ready to get back to full on-ice work. Bolland didn't skate Thursday, before or during practice, and Emery came out briefly before the session for some work with goaltending coach Stephane Waite. He quickly left before team drills started.

"We're going to rule them out," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Ray was out there today and [Bolland] didn't skate, but he's getting real close to getting on the ice. [Emery] felt good, too, so it was good progress today."

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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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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday