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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 4:21 PM

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

Blackhawks troubled by blown leads vs. Blues

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks coughed up 3-2 leads against the St. Louis Blues late in regulation of each of the first two games of their Western Conference First Round series at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

The Blues scored in overtime each game to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Chicago is a combined 1:51 away from heading into Game 3 at United Center on Monday (8:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDSI, FS-MW, CSN-CH) as the team with the 2-0 series edge. The Blackhawks were 6.4 seconds from closing out Game 2 on Saturday, but Vladimir Tarasenko tied it 3-3 on a power play caused by defenseman Brent Seabrook's major penalty for an illegal hit.

"Six seconds away," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday at United Center. "I thought we killed that penalty … I was going to say 'perfect.' It was six seconds away from perfect."


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 4:16 PM

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

Tale of two seasons for Blackhawks' special teams

CHICAGO -- Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks proved just how valuable a great penalty-killing effort can be through the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite having a power play that ranked 19th in the regular season (16.7 percent) and 13th out of 16 playoff teams (11.4 percent), the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons.

A year later, Chicago's season on special teams was a tale of two halves heading into Game 1 of their series against the rival St. Louis Blues on Thursday at Scottrade Center in the Western Conference First Round (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, CSN-CH, FS-MW).

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Posted On Monday, 04.14.2014 / 4:44 PM

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

Blackhawks' Toews, Kane say they're set for Game 1

CHICAGO -- They were only three words, but seemed to hold more importance when spoken Monday by Jonathan Toews, the captain of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

How does he feel, physically, after sitting out the final six games of the regular season with an upper-body injury?

"Good," Toews said, pausing. "Really good."

Toews and forward Patrick Kane, who missed the final 12 games with a lower-body injury, said they're ready to take the next step in the process of getting back into game shape. They'll participate in full practices Tuesday and Wednesday, and get a morning skate Thursday at Scottrade Center prior to the start of a series against the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Posted On Friday, 04.11.2014 / 1:04 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red Wings won't rest on laurels as playoffs approach

DETROIT -- Now that a 23rd straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is assured, the Detroit Red Wings can afford to rest some legs in the final two games of the regular season.

They're just not planning to exercise that option. Heading into a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m. ET, RDS), the Red Wings are planning to stick with the same lineup they've used of late.

The lone exception will be on the bench. Rookie goalie Petr Mrazek will back up starter Jimmy Howard in the absence of Jonas Gustavsson, who hurt his shoulder in the playoff-clinching 4-3 shootout loss Wednesday at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"We want to keep winning," Red Wings veteran forward Johan Franzen said after the morning skate. "We want to win these last two games and maybe climb up a spot. So, that's our focus right now."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 2:37 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks' Kane feeling better, adjusting to brace

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to make the best of not having their two top forwards, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Each is out for the rest of the regular season, Toews with an upper-body injury and Kane with a lower-body injury. But they are expected to be fully healed and available for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a week.

Kane skated on his own for four days prior to joining the Blackhawks' morning skate Wednesday ahead of their game against the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS). Toews could get back on the ice Thursday for individual work.

"I think we're looking at it in a positive way, that I think this rest is going to be good for these guys," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're getting these guys some rest. We want to make them fresh and get them excited, knowing they've been off. They love playing and I think it creates an appetite as well. I think the amount of hockey and the big stages they've been [on] over the course of one season, I think this is only going to be viewed as a positive from our standpoint."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.06.2014 / 12:45 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks sticking with game plan against Blues

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks will host the rival St. Louis Blues on Sunday at United Center (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC,TSN2) and they're sticking with the same lineup that's won the past two games.

Only four games remain in the regular season for Chicago (44-19-15), which trails the Colorado Avalanche by three points for second place in the Central Division with only four games left.

Each of the past two games was played without top forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who are sidelined with injuries until the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The lineup designed to be simpler in structure, yet the Blackhawks haven't lacked too much offensively. They beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in a shootout Thursday at United Center on 26 shots and followed it up a day later with a 4-3 victory at the Columbus Blue Jackets on 38 shots.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 2:47 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks missing dynamic duo as they face Wild

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks will be without injured forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the rest of the regular season, and their first test without the dynamic duo comes Thursday at United Center against the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

The defending Stanley Cup champions trail the second-place Colorado Avalanche by three points.

The Wild (89 points) are trying to further secure the first Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Blackhawks are hoping to slice into the Avalanche lead for home-ice advantage in the first round. Chicago has lost three straight games, all played on the road without Kane (lower body), and now will play without he and Toews (upper body).

The Blackhawks have played one other regular-season game without Kane and Toews, and that was for rest purposes in the final game of the 2012-13 season at the St. Louis Blues.

"Obviously we missed [Kane] on that trip there, but now without [Toews] and him at the same time, offensively … I think that's why we're looking to play a tight, simple game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said after the morning skate. "I don't think you have quite the skill across the board and those guys usually enhance their linemates and their lines. It's a situation where we have to make sure we play the right way. We've got to play hard, we've got to play simple and look to play tight."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 2:39 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red Wings' Alfredsson, Datsyuk out vs. Bruins

DETROIT -- Add another big name to the injury list for the Detroit Red Wings.

Right wing Daniel Alfredsson has a lower-body injury and will not play against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. NBCSN, RDS, TSN2). Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Alfredsson was day-to-day.

Alfredsson did not participate in the morning skate Wednesday after not practicing Tuesday, when he told reporters he planned to play against Boston. Alfredsson didn't speak with reporters after the skate Wednesday.

Detroit will play without center Pavel Datsyuk, who is back to skating after an injury to his left knee but isn't ready from a conditioning standpoint to return to live action. Datsyuk rested for a couple weeks in March to let the pain in his knee subside and only recently got back on the ice for practices.

"Feel much better," Datsyuk said after the Red Wings skate. "Happy to skate with the team."

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Posted On Sunday, 03.30.2014 / 4:07 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red Wings' Abdelkader expected to play

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings are expected to get forward Justin Abdelkader back from a leg laceration Sunday at Joe Louis Arena against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Abdelkader, who was injured during a 4-1 loss March 16 at the Chicago Blackhawks, has missed seven games. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he'll watch pregame warm-ups before he settles on a starting lineup.

Ansar Khan, of MLive.com, and Chuck Pleiness, of the Macomb (Mich.) Daily, each reported Sunday morning that Detroit general manager Ken Holland said Abdelkader would play against the Lightning. Holland also told them center Darren Helm, who had a hat trick against Toronto, was fine after being run into the boards in the third period of that game.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 2:18 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jurco latest Red Wings forward returning to lineup

DETROIT -- One by one, the Detroit Red Wings are making their way from the training room back to the ice.

The tables inside the trainer's office still are crowded, but things finally are starting to thin out in there as the Red Wings look to extend their string of Stanley Cup Playoffs appearances to 23 straight seasons.

After getting center Darren Helm, forward Todd Bertuzzi and forward Joakim Andersson back earlier this week, Detroit gets another player back in rookie forward Tomas Jurco, who will return from a rib injury Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m., ET, TSN, RDS) and start on the top line with Johan Franzen and center David Legwand.

"He probably thinks he's dragging those old guys around," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the morning skate. "I can put [Gustav] Nyquist back there in a heartbeat, but Nyquist on that [second] line is flying. [Jurco] has a skill set, he makes good plays with the puck [and] can really skate. That line needs more tempo. We're trying to have more balance. We need to generate on more than just one line."

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Quote of the Day

I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year. I think we started seeing that at the end of the year, and he could be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility.

— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien on forward Loui Eriksson's potential