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Posted On Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 2:23 AM

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

Defense shake-up boosts Blackhawks to Game 5 win

CHICAGO -- A lot of words are written each season about Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville changing the make-up of his forward lines, but he's not against shaking up his defense pairs either.

Last season, facing a 3-1 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals, he fiddled with his top two pairs before Game 5 at United Center. He reunited longtime partners Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook as the top pair, and they stayed together through Chicago's run to the 2013 Stanley Cup championship.

Quenneville was at it again Wednesday. Down 3-1 in the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings, he split up Keith and Seabrook prior to Game 5 of the best-of-7 series.

Once again, the shake-up seemed to work; the Blackhawks won 5-4 in double overtime to stave off elimination.


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Posted On Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 2:28 PM

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

Blackhawks juggle lines, reunite Hossa, Toews

CHICAGO -- Once again, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is juggling his forward lines to see if he can spark something against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final.

The Kings lead 3-1 in the best-of-7 series heading into Game 5 on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

During the morning skate Quenneville had right wing Marian Hossa back up with center Jonathan Toews and left wing Bryan Bickell on the top line, and right wing Patrick Kane with left wing Brandon Saad and center Andrew Shaw on the second line.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 2:16 PM

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

Faceoffs remain cause of concern for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- If the Chicago Blackhawks are going to climb back into this Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings, they have to start winning more faceoffs.

The Kings lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 heading into Game 5 on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS) and their advantage at the faceoff dots has helped them stifle the vaunted puck-possession game of the defending Stanley Cup champions, particularly on special teams.

"They've beat us in almost every game this series other than Game 1, [when] it was 50-50," said Blackhawks forward Ben Smith, who's won eight of 15 draws (53.3 percent) for one of Chicago's better percentages. "So definitely [our] centers have to work harder, the wingers have to help them out and find ways to get pucks because we want puck possession. That'll give us a little bit of an edge [in Game 5] if we can do that."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.27.2014 / 7:44 PM

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

Blackhawks' Seabrook: 'I've got to be better'

CHICAGO -- Brent Seabrook didn't hide from the spotlight Tuesday afternoon at O'Hare International Airport, following the Chicago Blackhawks' return from an ugly trip to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Final.

A 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday dropped the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks into a 3-1 hole in the best-of-7 series. Seabrook, a defenseman who was on the ice for the Kings' two power-play goals in the first period, owned up to his share of responsibility.

After leading the NHL in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in penalty killing prior to this series, the Blackhawks have killed five of 10 Kings power plays heading into Game 5 on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.21.2014 / 1:41 PM

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

Blackhawks forward Shaw out for Game 2

CHICAGO -- Rather than rush Andrew Shaw back from a lower-body injury, the Chicago Blackhawks are taking the conservative approach with the scrappy 22-year old forward.

Shaw will miss his seventh straight game of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Blackhawks play the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS), but could play in Game 3 on Saturday at Staples Center.

Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 1-0.

"If it was a Game 7, I think we'd be looking at it a lot differently," Shaw said. "But it's Game 2 and the series just started, so with those three extra days of rest it's going to be huge for me."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.20.2014 / 5:14 PM

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

Blackhawks' Seabrook displaying penchant for points

CHICAGO -- Brent Seabrook is one of the core group players with long-term contracts for the Chicago Blackhawks, but he often gets overshadowed by bigger names on the roster.

If you look at the Blackhawks' stats during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Seabrook's name is near the top in scoring. In fact, the first-pair defenseman is tied with captain Jonathan Toews for second with 11 points (two goals, nine assists).

Chicago leads the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 in the best-of-7 Western Conference Final, and Seabrook again played well Sunday at United Center. He led the Blackhawks with five hits, blocked four shots and put two shots on goal, finishing with a plus-1 rating in 23:33 of ice time.

Game 2 is Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

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Posted On Monday, 05.19.2014 / 4:10 PM

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

Blackhawks' Hjalmarsson blocks shots with abandon

CHICAGO -- The past two weeks Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was under a doctor's strong recommendation to limit his speech after being struck in the throat May 5 by a shot from Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin.

Hjalmarsson was cleared to speak again Monday and met with reporters at United Center for the first time since the injury occurred. After being struck by the puck Hjalmarsson dropped to the ice and grabbed his throat. He was down for a few minutes before slowly skating to the bench to get his breath back. He didn't miss a shift and has played all five games since it happened, including Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

"It was pretty scary once it happened," said Hjalmarsson, who has worn a Kevlar neck protector the past five games. "It was tough to breathe there for a couple minutes. I was just glad that I recovered quickly. And once I figured out that I'm able to breathe, it was a big relief. I guess I was pretty lucky and I'm just glad to be able to talk again and can't wait to get rid of that neck guard that I'm still wearing."

Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 1-0 after a 3-1 victory in the opener at United Center. Hjalmarsson did what he does best to help the team, logging 18:55 of ice time, blocking four shots and helping the Blackhawks kill off both Kings power plays.

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Posted On Monday, 05.19.2014 / 2:42 PM

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

Blackhawks' Shaw skates, could play in Game 2

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw took another step Monday toward returning to action against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final, skating on his own at United Center.

Shaw has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury sustained in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Minnesota Wild.

"We'll put him in practice [Tuesday] with the full group and make an assessment on him," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's made some real good progress the last few days and he felt pretty good [Monday]."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.15.2014 / 4:28 PM

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

Blackhawks expect Shaw back on ice this weekend

CHICAGO -- Andrew Shaw again rested with a lower-body injury and didn't practice with the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday at United Center.

The good news for the Blackhawks is that Shaw, a scrappy, versatile second-year forward, is close to skating again and might be able to return in the pending Western Conference Final against either the Anaheim Ducks or Los Angeles Kings.

Game 1 is scheduled for Sunday.

"[He] certainly adds an ingredient you appreciate as a coach and a teammate," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "[He] has that relentless competitiveness, some skill offensively and he's hard to play against. Nice set of hands, can take faceoffs, play center, wing. You look forward to getting him back. We expect to have him back on the ice this weekend and we'll get a better determination of when he'll play."

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Posted On Monday, 05.12.2014 / 4:51 PM

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

Blackhawks' Shaw closer, but won't play in Game 6

CHICAGO -- Make it five straight games for the Chicago Blackhawks without scrappy, versatile forward Andrew Shaw.

Though he's showing progress with a lower-body injury that occurred in Game 1 of a Western Conference Second Round series against the Minnesota Wild, Shaw will miss Game 6 on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS2).

It will be the third straight trip to St. Paul he won't make, after sitting out Game 3 and Game 4 this past week. Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 after grinding out a 2-1 victory Sunday in Game 5 at United Center.

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Quote of the Day

When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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