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Posted On Monday, 12.30.2013 / 2:42 PM

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

Blackhawks' Crawford hopes to return this week

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are close to getting their top goalie back.

Corey Crawford, who has missed nine straight games with a lower-body injury that's reportedly a groin issue, said he felt "great" after participating in the Blackhawks' morning skate Monday at United Center.

Crawford won't dress Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2), but is set to make his return during a pending two-game road trip to play back-to-back at the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils on Thursday and Friday.

"I feel great," said Crawford, who skated in a team workout for the first time since leaving the lineup Dec. 8 at home against the Florida Panthers. "After the Christmas break everything's gone well. I haven't felt the injury at all on the ice, so I'm ready to go."


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Posted On Friday, 12.27.2013 / 7:38 PM

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

Blackhawks look to strike back against Avalanche

CHICAGO -- Among all the record breakdowns, the only one that's close to marginal for the Chicago Blackhawks is against Central Division teams.

Chicago is 8-6-1 against teams in its division with a back-to-back set this weekend against the two closest teams to the Blackhawks in the Central, the third-place Colorado Avalanche and second-place St. Louis Blues.

The Blackhawks (26-7-6) will host the Avalanche (23-10-3) on Friday at United Center and then make the trip to play the Blues on Saturday at Scottrade Center.

"It's nice being at the top of the League in the standings, but you know these division games are [against] teams you face a lot," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. "It'd be nice to get a little better record than that and improve. I guess we have some games ahead of us that we can do that in the next two."

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Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 2:08 PM

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

Blackhawks provide pre-break challenge for Devils

CHICAGO -- The New Jersey Devils will head into the Christmas break by playing the defending Stanley Cup champions Monday at United Center.

"I could think of better places to end," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said, laughing. "But you've got to come here at some point. Our guys are excited for the challenge."

The NHL-leading Blackhawks (25-7-6) are looking forward to it after falling 3-2 in a shootout against theVancouver Canucks on Friday. They'd like to get back on a winning track before getting three days off for the holiday.

Chicago hasn't faced New Jersey since the 2011-12 season and hasn't beaten the Devils at United Center since a 5-1 victory Dec. 31, 2009. The Blackhawks haven't beaten the Devils regardless of location since April 2, 2010 at Prudential Center.

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Posted On Friday, 12.20.2013 / 1:38 PM

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

Facing Canucks still gets Blackhawks' juices flowing

CHICAGO -- Each side has undergone changes but enough familiarity remains between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks for their Stanley Cup Playoffs-fueled rivalry to continue.

The Canucks (20-11-6) make their first visit to United Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN) to face the Blackhawks (25-7-5), who won the first game between the teams this season 2-1 on Nov. 23 at Rogers Arena.

"I don't think it's changed, especially when we went in there [in November] and it was a heck of a game there," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said following Chicago's morning skate. "Last time we were in there and last year's games were very competitive. I still think that every game it brings back memories quickly."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.19.2013 / 2:20 PM

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

Red Wings maintaining faith in Weiss

DETROIT -- It's still too early to call the Stephen Weiss signing a bust, according to Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

Weiss, who will see a specialist in Philadelphia on Friday about his injured groin, has two goals and four points in 26 games for Detroit since signing a contract this past summer for a reported five years and $24.5 million.

"I don't care what sport you are, when you look at an athlete you look at what they've accomplished over a period of time," Holland said after Detroit's morning skate Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. "Every athlete probably has one year that's way better than the norm and one year worse than the norm, but there's a lot of statistics that are somewhat similar. When you look at the book on Weiss, it says 48 points five of the last seven years."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 4:10 PM

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

Red Wings, Ducks navigating through injuries

DETROIT -- The Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings haven't faced each other since Detroit pulled off an upset in a seven-game Western Conference Quarterfinals series last spring.

They'll share the same ice surface again Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena, but the circumstances are quite a bit different.

Anaheim has 51 points and leads the Pacific Division, while the injury-plagued Red Wings are currently fourth in the Atlantic Division after moving to the Eastern Conference.

"The feeling's still in your stomach that you lost in a Game 7 after the season that we had," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said following Anaheim's morning skate Tuesday. "I don't know if there's ever any real personal feelings other than we got beat and these are the guys that beat us. We just want to get back on the horse and make sure [we] can compete with these teams."


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Posted On Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 5:47 PM

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

Kings, Blackhawks face off in playoff rematch

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks are ready to pick up where they left off last spring.

Two of the top three teams in the Western Conference will face each other Sunday night at United Center for the first time since Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane scored 11:40 into the second overtime of Game 5, in the same arena, to end their 2013 Western Conference Final series.

Each team is finding ways to win without their top goalie, but the results Saturday were split. The Kings, who are still without goalie Jonathan Quick (groin), beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 at Canadian Tire Centre before the Blackhawks, playing without Corey Crawford (lower body), lost 7-3 to theToronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre to end a three-game winning streak.

Los Angeles also extended its streak of not allowing a first-period goal to 18 straight games and has a record of 13-1-4 in that span.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.11.2013 / 6:08 PM

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

Flyers to give Emery start against Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- From a plot perspective, Ray Emery's return to the Windy City couldn't have worked out any better.

The Chicago Blackhawks (22-6-5), with whom Emery won the 2013 Stanley Cup, are playing with a rookie in net because of lower-body injuries sidelining top goalie Corey Crawford and backup Nikolai Khabibulin (signed over the summer to replace Emery).

The Blackhawks could probably use a proven veteran like Emery during the next couple weeks, despite Antti Raanta making an impressive start to his NHL career with a 4-0-1 record, 2.14 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

Instead, Emery will be in net for the Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-3) on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

"Ray's been good for us this year and we use him, but it's good to get him in this game tonight," Flyers coach Craig Berube said following his team's morning skate. "He had a great year last year with [Chicago] and won a Cup, so he's looking forward to it."

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Posted On Sunday, 12.08.2013 / 4:00 PM

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

Blackhawks activate Kostka from injured reserve

CHICAGO -- Defenseman Michael Kostka was activated from injured reserve by the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

The 28-year old Kostka missed the Blackhawks' past 23 games with a fractured foot and had one assist in two games with Rockford of the American Hockey League during a conditioning stint.

Prior to getting injured, Kostka had one goal -- the first of his NHL career -- in the two games he played for the Blackhawks. He made his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, playing 35 games and finishing with eight assists and 27 penalty minutes.

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Posted On Sunday, 12.08.2013 / 1:45 PM

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

Shaw returns for Blackhawks against Panthers

CHICAGO -- There was some good news on the injury front for the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday morning.

Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell both participated in the team's optional morning skate prior to facing the Florida Panthers on Sunday night. Shaw will play against the Panthers, but Bickell still has a ways to go in his recovery from a lower-body injury.

"First time on the ice there today [for Bickell]," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was good to see him out there but we'll get a better indication, I guess, [when he's] out there with everybody."

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I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level