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Posted On Friday, 12.06.2013 / 6:45 PM

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

Blackhawks, Ducks top teams that could use a win

CHICAGO -- It's a matchup of top teams Friday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), but the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks are winless in their past two games.

The Ducks (18-7-5) have dropped a pair of games in shootouts, and the Blackhawks (20-6-4) have lost two straight in regulation for the first time this season, including a stinging 4-3 defeat Thursday against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota charged back with two late goals in the third period to beat Chicago, after coughing up a one-goal lead early in the final period. The Blackhaws are in the middle of a stretch when they're playing nine games in 15 days, after returning from a seven-game, 14-day road trip.

"We're probably at the high-point of the season in basically the volume of games," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They're just rolling one to the next. We want to make sure we keep the right focus going into the game ... here we are tonight playing that is rested and they're big and they played us well last year and they're a dangerous team. That's a challenge."

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.04.2013 / 1:43 PM

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

Red Wings get good news on Datsyuk, DeKeyser

DETROIT -- Amid a slew of injuries to key players, the Detroit Red Wings received a slight bit of good news Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

Top center Pavel Datsyuk (concussion) and rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser (shoulder) both participated in the morning skate prior to Detroit hosting the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Neither will play, but Datsyuk said he's symptom-free after missing the past four games with concussion-related symptoms.

"I don't have symptoms," Datsyuk said. "[I need] to talk to [the] doctor and make a decision."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.03.2013 / 2:00 PM

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

No clowning as Blackhawks return from 'Circus Trip'

CHICAGO -- Five days after the Chicago Blackhawks won a memorable 11-round shootout against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center, the Central Division opponents will meet again Tuesday night at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

The Blackhawks (20-4-4) will host the Stars (12-9-4) in their first game since going a franchise-best 6-1-0 during their annual November "Circus Trip," when their arena hosts the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Just like last season, when the Blackhawks ran through the Western Conference with little trouble in the 48-game regular season, they aren't clowning around. Chicago has won six in a row, is 15-3-2 in the past 20 games, and leads the NHL with 44 points through 28 games.

"I thought we had a real good trip, [with] every game played the right way," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we stabilized a situation that was getting a little bit out of hand with goals against, and I thought we were rock solid in all zones defensively and we had a lot of offense because of that. I love that consistency with the four lines and how we're playing."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.27.2013 / 2:20 PM

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

Red Wings sign Ericsson to six-year extension

DETROIT -- Jonathan Ericsson was the ultimate "Mr. Irrelevant" when he was selected by the Detroit Red Wings with the 291st pick in the 2002 NHL Draft.

Now, the 29-year old defenseman is anything but irrelevant in his role on the right side of Detroit's top defense pairing with Swedish countryman Niklas Kronwall. The Red Wings confirmed it Wednesday morning by announcing a six-year contract extension for Ericsson worth a reported $25.5 million.

Ericsson, who's missed 10 games with a shoulder injury, has one goal and four assists with a plus-3 rating in 15 games heading into a "Wednesday Night Rivalry" game against the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m., NBCSN).

"When I got drafted this was a longshot for me," Ericsson said following Detroit's morning skate. "Just being able to maybe one day to play for the Red Wings, that's one thing. But to be able to play here for, I don't know how many years it's going to be now, it's an amazing feeling. Being a part of this top-ranked organization for my whole career is great."

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Posted On Sunday, 11.17.2013 / 5:35 PM

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

Blackhawks looking to rebound against Sharks

CHICAGO -- The way their weekend started Saturday night in the "Music City," the Chicago Blackhawks hope to sing a different tune after playing the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at United Center.

Not only did the Nashville Predators defeat them 7-2 at Bridgestone Arena, the Blackhawks also played without Marian Hossa, a late scratch because of a lower-body injury, and lost goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to an undisclosed injury in the first period.

Corey Crawford, who was supposed to get a day off, finished the game and allowed five of the seven goals. He'll go again Sunday against the Sharks, who have one of the most potent offenses in the League.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.16.2013 / 12:55 AM

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

Alfredsson late scratch for Red Wings

DETROIT -- Daniel Alfredsson was a late scratch Friday night for the Detroit Red Wings because of a groin injury.

The 40-year old took warm-up prior to the game against the Washington Capitals at Joe Louis Arena but was scratched as a precautionary measure. His absence left the Red Wings with 17 skaters.

"I had no idea what was going on there. I came up after warm-up and evidently he had some groin tightness and so [trainer Piet Van Zant] scratched him," coach Mike Babcock said after a 4-3 shootout loss. "Obviously, you'd like to have enough players but it worked out good, our rotation was fine. That wasn't an issue. That had nothing to do with the game."

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Posted On Friday, 11.15.2013 / 2:00 PM

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

Ericsson back for Red Wings, Green out for Capitals

DETROIT -- Jonathan Ericsson isn't cherry-picking his return to the Detroit Red Wings starting lineup.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound defenseman will make his return to Detroit's top defense pairing Friday night at Joe Louis Arena against the high-powered Washington Capitals, who are led by superstar Alex Ovechkin (14 goals, seven assists).

After missing 10 games with a shoulder subluxation, Ericsson is ready to get back on the ice with defense partner Niklas Kronwall.

"We'll keep him under 30 minutes and obviously he's a real good defender for us and can pass the puck [and has] huge size," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said following Detroit's optional morning skate. "It gives us one more high-end guy to get the puck going and be a better team. The forwards need the puck and he can do that plus play against real good players."


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Posted On Thursday, 11.14.2013 / 2:29 PM

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

Hanzal, Vrbata returning to Coyotes' lineup

CHICAGO -- The Phoenix Coyotes will get two of their most important players back Thursday at United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Top center Martin Hanzal (illness) and second-line right wing Radim Vrbata (lower body) will return to the lineup after going through a full morning skate.

Hanzal missed one game, a 3-2 overtime win Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, while Vrbata missed the past two games. Defenseman Derek Morris, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, went through the skate but will not play.

"It gives us a little more depth at the forward position," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "They're two guys who we put in our top-six forwards, so you take two of them out together, that's a big hole. [Hanzal] touches so many parts of the game for us at center ice and Vrbata's been, for the last couple years, our leading goal scorer. They're both valuable players who can hopefully jump back in and contribute."

Morris also is getting closer to returning.

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Posted On Sunday, 11.10.2013 / 5:33 PM

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

Blackhawks look to continue fast start against Oilers

CHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville isn't letting a storyline get in the way of putting his best lineup on the ice.

The Chicago Blackhawks' coach will start his top goalie, Corey Crawford, against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday at United Center (7:30 p.m., WGN, SNET-W, SNET-EDM), less than 24 hours after earning the win in a 5-2 road victory against the Dallas Stars.

The decision means that struggling 40-year old veteran Nikolai Khabibulin will have to keep waiting for a chance to turn his season around.

"[Khabibulin] definitely got some consideration," Quenneville said during a press conference two hours before puck drop. "I know the last couple of weeks it's been a light schedule, only going like four games a week, so we expect to get him in here real soon."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 8:02 PM

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

Jets' Kane scratched against Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Evander Kane (lower body) was scratched from the Winnipeg Jets' lineup on Wednesday before their game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Kane, who missed the Jets' 4-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, participated in an optional morning skate Wednesday and was a game-time decision.

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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley