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Posted On Friday, 05.22.2015 / 4:02 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Ducks-Blackhawks series blog

Van Riemsdyk recalled by Blackhawks from AHL

CHICAGO -- It's been a challenging season for Chicago Blackhawks rookie defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk, but it might have a positive conclusion.

The Blackhawks recalled van Riemsdyk, 23, on Friday from Rockford of the American Hockey League after he was cleared to return from the second of two major injuries.

The most recent was a right wrist injury that required surgery April 7, and happened with Rockford after van Riemsdyk had returned from a three-month absence following surgery to repair a fractured patella in his left knee. The on-ice work van Riemsdyk did Friday with a small group of teammates was his first time skating since the second surgery.

"We'll see," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Friday when asked when van Riemsdyk could play. "I know the timeline to get him on the ice was, [this was] his first day today. But he's been ready. He's cleared to participate and he was out there doing 1-on-1 drills, so we'll see."

Posted On Thursday, 05.21.2015 / 8:15 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Ducks-Blackhawks series blog

Nordstrom, Versteeg in for Blackhawks for Game 3

CHICAGO -- Rookie forward Joakim Nordstrom and forward Kris Versteeg were in the Chicago Blackhawks lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.

Center Antoine Vermette didn't participate in warm-ups at United Center, and rookie forward Teuvo Teravainen didn't skate on any of the lines during rushes.

Nordstrom took rushes at right wing on the fourth line, and Versteeg was at right wing on the third line.

Posted On Thursday, 05.21.2015 / 2:38 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Ducks-Blackhawks series blog

Shaw, Desjardins team up on Blackhawks fourth line

CHICAGO -- Andrew Shaw and Andrew Desjardins had plenty of run-ins when they played for different teams, but now they're teaming up on the Chicago Blackhawks' fourth line to make life miserable for somebody else.

Heading into Game 3 at United Center on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), the Blackhawks will count on them for another successful blue-collar effort battling for pucks and holding one of the Ducks lines in check.

Desjardins plays left wing, Shaw plays right wing and in between is gritty two-way center Marcus Kruger, whose game-winning goal in triple overtime of Game 2 in the Western Conference Final on Tuesday evened the best-of-7 series against the Anaheim Ducks at 1-1.

"I just think our line worked together [in Game 2]," said Shaw, who scored on a power play, led Chicago with seven shots on goal and tied for second with 10 shot attempts. "We were cycling the puck, getting chances, getting shots on net. [Kruger] made some great passes; so did [Desjardins]. And when your line's clicking like that you're going to get those opportunities."

Posted On Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 5:00 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Ducks-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks evaluating defense pairs for Game 1

CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks are expected to lean heavily on their top four defensemen in the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks, and their practice Thursday supported that belief.

Duncan Keith was paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson instead of 23-year-old David Rundblad, and Brent Seabrook shifted with Johnny Oduya rather than 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen.

Rundblad, Timonen and Kyle Cumiskey alternated shifts together as a makeshift third pairing.

"Let's see," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Let's [take] a look at different options as we go into [the series]. The pair that probably didn't see much of one another was David and Kimmo, so we'll see if we can utilize that as we go along in a game, but it's something we wanted to see."

Posted On Wednesday, 05.13.2015 / 6:22 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Ducks-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks try to avoid rust during long layoff

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have experienced quite a bit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the past seven seasons, but they're adding to it this week during an extended layoff between series.

The Blackhawks will have had nine days off before they play the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). They have not played since completing a sweep of the Minnesota Wild in the second round at Xcel Energy Center last Thursday.

Chicago has practiced three of the past six days, including Wednesday, and is trying to avoid any rust that might build up prior to the start of the conference final.

"I think there is such a thing as momentum," Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane said. "That's one of the biggest things in [the] playoffs, whether it's through a series or from series to series. I think for all of us in here, we probably would've rather started the series earlier than it's supposed to be, but what are you going to do? That's the way the schedule is. You've kind of got to adjust with it, and I think we'll use the time off the right way and make sure we're ready for the first game."

Posted On Thursday, 05.07.2015 / 3:34 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Blackhawks' Versteeg healthy, waiting for his chance

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg has returned from a lower-body injury but must wait for an opportunity to crack the lineup in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Versteeg, 28, will be a healthy scratch in Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2), when the Blackhawks have a chance to end the best-of-7 series with a sweep of the Minnesota Wild.

Versteeg played all six games of Chicago's first-round victory against the Nashville Predators and scored one goal. He was replaced to start this series by rookie forward Teuvo Teravainen and then missed a few days of practice because of the injury, which was his third this season.

"I'm feeling good now," Versteeg said after the Blackhawks' skate. "I'm just kind of waiting now to get in the lineup and trying to be ready for my call. I don't think anyone can ever say they're 100 percent [in the playoffs], but I feel good now and I think it was important to do what I did."

Posted On Wednesday, 05.06.2015 / 5:34 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Blackhawks mostly using five defensemen

MINNEAPOLIS – The Chicago Blackhawks have played their best defense of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the past two games against the Minnesota Wild, but coach Joel Quenneville has shortened his bench in each game.

Quenneville has played mostly five defensemen in the previous two games, which were won by the Blackhawks to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round series. The odd man out was 40-year old veteran Kimmo Timonen, whose ice time keeps dwindling.

Timonen, acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 28, averaged 11:58 in 16 regular-season games. He's averaged 9:31 per game through the first nine games of the playoffs and played a combined 12:01 in the past two games. Top defenseman Duncan Keith is absorbing most of the minutes normally reserved for a sixth defenseman, but hasn't shown signs of being worn out yet.

"[Keith] played meaningful minutes in the last couple of games, but it's something he's accustomed to doing and we're comfortable giving him those minutes," Quenneville said. "We'll see how taxing some of those minutes are, and at the end of the day, you look at it going into the next day, how you think he's going to handle it. He usually doesn't give you any reason why he can't do it again … but we'll see."

Posted On Monday, 05.04.2015 / 5:25 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Vermette's faceoff ability a boon for Blackhawks

CHICAGO – Antoine Vermette's skill in the faceoff circle is finally starting to pay off for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Vermette has won 70 percent of his faceoffs in the Blackhawks' past three games while centering a third line that has produced goals in each of their two wins to start the Western Conference Second Round series against the Minnesota Wild.

Game 3 is Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN).

Posted On Sunday, 05.03.2015 / 2:25 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Hossa, not scoring, still contributing for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The fact Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa hasn't scored in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs was a surprise to Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook after the morning skate at United Center on Sunday.

"That's news to me," Seabrook said. "Seems like he scores every night."

Hossa, 36, is not the kind of goal-scorer who is going to lead the NHL in goals, but has become a daunting two-way menace to opposing teams. He has six assists heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Minnesota Wild (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN360, TVA Sports 2), and was an important part of Chicago's 4-3 Game 1 victory on Friday.

Posted On Saturday, 05.02.2015 / 5:59 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Wild forward Fontaine out for Game 2

CHICAGO -- The Minnesota Wild will not have forward Justin Fontaine for Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Sunday (8:30 p.m. ET; CBC, NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 2).

Fontaine, who was playing right wing on the fourth line, has an undisclosed lower-body injury that was sustained late in the second period of Minnesota's 4-3 loss in Game 1 on Friday.

Wild coach Mike Yeo on Saturday didn't speculate about how much time it might take to heal and didn't reveal which reserve forward would play in Game 2.

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Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82