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Blackhawks vs Red Wings

Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 5:02 PM

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

Red Wings tinker with look of power play

CHICAGO -- The Detroit Red Wings might tweak the look of their power play for Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinal against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

During their morning skate, the Red Wings practiced the power play using somewhat of an umbrella scheme, with only defenseman Niklas Kronwall at the point. Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen were on the flanks with Justin Abdelkader in front of the net and Henrik Zetterberg roaming.

"We tried it out in practice," Abdelkader said. "We'll see what happens in the game, if it stays or not, but if it does we've just got to shoot pucks and get second chances, second rebounds and break them down. Power plays always start with a shot, so we've got to make sure we're shooting, getting pucks back and taking them to the net."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 6:04 PM

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

Frolik in NHL record book with 2nd penalty shot

CHICAGO -- Michael Frolik couldn’t believe it when he looked at his phone following Monday's game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Chicago Blackhawks forward had quite a few text messages waiting for him after he scored the eventual game-winning goal on a penalty shot in the third period of a 4-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

The Original Six rivals will conclude the series Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But Frolik's legend has already grown, as his mobile phone kept reminding him Monday night.

"It kept ringing after the game," Frolik said. "That was kind of nice. It's amazing how many people follow that. I was happy to hear from so many people."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 12:37 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Despite loss, Red Wings excited for Game 7

The Detroit Red Wings have failed twice to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks.

Coach Mike Babcock is very much looking forward to the third try.

"If I would have told our whole team before this series, if I would have told Detroit, Michigan before this series, that we were going to be playing Chicago in Game 7, I think everyone would have been pretty excited about that," Babcock said Monday night, after it was made necessary. "I love Game 7s. I'm excited about it. We've got a chance to push them out of the playoffs -- should be a lot of fun."

Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal between the Red Wings and Blackhawks will be played Wednesday at United Center in Chicago (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The Blackhawks survived Game 6, winning 4-3 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, where the Red Wings took a 2-1 lead into the third period.

The Red Wings had won three straight to build a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Now they must play their second Game 7 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs; they won their first against the Anaheim Ducks to end round one.

"We just have to go to Chicago and play a good game," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg told Fox Sports Detroit. "As I said before, in the first series, it's not often you have a chance to play in Game 7. We're going to regroup here, we're going to stick together, we're going to come out and play a good game, and it's going to be a lot of fun."

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 7:21 PM

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

Blackhawks unite fans of Cubs, White Sox

CHICAGO -- It's almost like a holiday in the Windy City whenever the White Sox and Cubs face each other, especially if you like your holidays spiced with bitterness, jealously and downright hatred.

In this city, fans are typically either White Sox black or Cubby blue with no exceptions made -- or love lost -- on either side. Monday night at the White Sox's U.S. Cellular Field, however, the "neutral" colors were red and black, the main color scheme of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks.

Thanks to Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Blackhawks and rival Detroit Red Wings starting at 7 p.m. Central -- a potential elimination game for Chicago -- the opening game of the annual Cubs-Sox rivalry was forced to share the spotlight.

How much baseball watching will be going on at the ballpark?

"Uh, not a lot," said Tim Light, of Burr Ridge, Ill., who attended the game with his Cubs-fan wife, Debby and proudly wore a Jonathan Toews alternate Blackhawks jersey. "As soon as 7 o'clock comes around, I'll be watching the hockey game."

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 12:57 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Blackhawks happy with play of new-look top line

DETROIT -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had been looking for balance with his forward lines, and he had gone back and forth on the issue with the power play, but after the performance of the team's new-look top line in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, it's hard to imagine him not sticking with it at the start of Game 6.

Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane played together at even strength from the start of a contest for the first time a while and the results certainly were positive in a 4-1 victory at United Center to pull the Blackhawks to within a game of the rival Detroit Red Wings at 3-2.

The Blackhawks will hope that solid play continues in Game 6 Monday in Detroit (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 12:50 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Hawks, Wings look for momentum with solid start

DETROIT -- The Chicago Blackhawks have talked a lot about momentum in the past few days, and how they believe it finally is shifting to their side after falling behind 3-1 in this Western Conference Semifinal series with the Detroit Red Wings before handily winning Game 5 at United Center.

The Red Wings also have talked a lot about momentum -- about how they don't believe it exists in a playoff series. While both teams are taking the obvious side of a decades-old argument -- certainly the Blackhawks hope they have some momentum and the Red Wings believe they don't -- how Game 6 of the series starts Monday at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) probably will play into the narrative for one side or the other.

"For us, I think we just need to seize the momentum we have here and carry it into Game 6," Chicago forward Patrick Kane said. "It was fun playing in Game 5. That's the way we need to play. I think we had close to 50 shots, pretty much every line was rolling, we had some power-play goals and obviously we got the lead at the start. Hopefully we can get some more of that [in Game 6] and build off it."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 6:15 PM

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

Blackhawks' Keith on octopus: 'That thing's gross'

CHICAGO – Prior to a game at Joe Louis Arena last week, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith skated over to chat with Detroit Red Wings Zamboni driver Al Sobotka following the national anthem.

Sobotka, who’s taken care of the ice at ‘The Joe’ for 30 years, has become famous for scooping up octopuses thrown on the playing surface for luck and swinging them over his head to fire up the crowd as he removes them.

The one hurled near the end of the anthem prior to Game 4 of a Western Conference Semifinals series between the Original Six rivals caught Keith’s attention.

“Oh I just wanted to look at that thing,” Keith said on Sunday, prior to flying back to Detroit for Game 6 on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN,CBC, RDS). “I’d never seen something like that, that big.”


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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 6:03 PM

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

Lineup changes sparked Blackhawks in Game 5

CHICAGO – The lineup changes that Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville made before Saturday night’s game at United Center appear to have worked.

Quenneville put three of his top four star forwards on the top line – Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – while also switching around the other three combinations. He also changed his defense pairings back to the way they were to start the season, after splitting all three up on March 31 in Detroit and keeping then that way.

The result was a 45-shot, 4-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of this Western Conference Semifinal series. The win forced a Game 6, which will be played Monday at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The Red Wings are up 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, but Chicago’s stretch passes and ability to chase down pucks dumped into the Detroit zone behind defenders loosened up the Detroit defense.


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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 5:44 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

'Kid line' needs to be better for Red Wings in Game 6

DETROIT -- The breakout stars for the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs hit a bump in the road Saturday night.

Detroit’s “kid line” -- Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner -- had given the Red Wings a definitive spark late in a first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks and were a huge reason why they won three of four to start the Western Conference Semifinals against the rival Chicago Blackhawks.

Their work in Game 5 did not measure up to the first four contests.

“They weren't very good last night and they've been pretty good through the playoffs,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Sunday. “Is that part of it? Hindsight is a real good thing. Did we all want the puck all the time? No.”

Brunner has four goals, which ties him for the team lead with Daniel Cleary and Johan Franzen, and eight points, which ties him for second with Cleary and Pavel Datsyuk. Nyquist and Andersson both have four points each, and Nyquist has a pair of big goals. He and Brunner have two of the team’s three overtime tallies.


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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 1:53 AM

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

Blackhawks finally convert on power play

CHICAGO – It was getting to the point with the Chicago Blackhawks' power play where fans started wishing their favorite team could just decline penalties the way they can in football.

Coming into Saturday night's Game 5 of a Western Conference Semifinal series against the rival Detroit Red Wings at United Center, the Blackhawks were 1-for-12 (8.3 percent) in the series on the man-advantage and 3-for-25 (12 percent) in nine games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even worse, in Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena – a 2-0 Detroit victory that gave the Red Wings a commanding 3-1 series lead – Chicago managed to just one shot on goal in three power-play opportunities. The Blackhawks actually topped that number by one shot while shorthanded in that game.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 3:13 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Desperate Hawks set to unite top guns on one line

CHICAGO -- Near the end of Game 4 with his club desperate for a goal, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville had Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp each on different lines.

After three straight contests where offense was a problem for the Blackhawks, Quenneville may put them all together at the start of Game 5 on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

Sharp and Kane were on Toews' flanks when the Blackhawks went through line rushes at the morning skate inside United Center. Chicago needs a win against the Detroit Red Wings, or their rivals to the Southeast are going to claim this Western Conference Semifinals series in shocking fashion.

"They've played together in the past, and they've taken some shifts together [recently] here and there," Quenneville said. "I think they like playing with one another and we'll see how it goes."


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Posted On Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 2:40 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Red Wings wary of Blackhawks' stretch passes

CHICAGO -- The Detroit Red Wings have done a commendable job of not allowing the Chicago Blackhawks to possess the puck through the neutral zone in the Western Conference Semifinals.

That has forced Chicago to look for a Plan B to ignite its offense, and one particular tactic the Blackhawks like is a long pass through the zone to a forward waiting near the Detroit blue line. Other teams might just be trying to find a forward to deflect the pass into the offensive end to start the forecheck, but the Blackhawks are looking to connect on that pass and spring one of their skilled forwards on a breakaway or an odd-man rush.

Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey called these passes haymakers earlier in the series, and it fits -- if chipping the puck in and starting a cycle is the equivalent of a series of jabs to work the body, the Blackhawks are looking to throw a knockout punch.

"They're trying to get behind us with those long passes and stretch us out," Quincey said Saturday morning at United Center before Game 5 of a series the Red Wings lead 3-1. "They're making us skate with them. That's their skill set and we have to match it. It is tough. It is a lot of skating."


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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 8:28 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Depth defensemen making difference for Detroit

CHICAGO -- When the Detroit Red Wings lost seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement after the 2011-12 season, the impact seemed obvious.

But Detroit also began the 2012-13 campaign without steady veteran Brad Stuart, who was traded to the San Jose Sharks just before he was set to become an unrestricted free agent this past summer.

It left two huge holes in the Red Wings defense corps, and Plan A for helping to fill the void, free agent Ryan Suter, ended up with the Minnesota Wild instead.

The Red Wings regrouped, and over the course of this season there has been a youth movement afoot on the team’s back end. Veterans Carlo Colaiacovo and Kent Huskins were signed to offer depth, but it was clear some young defensemen would get a chance to play.

Niklas Kronwall moved up the depth chart and embraced being the team’s new No. 1. Jonathan Ericsson has proven to be a solid partner for him.

A huge reason the Red Wings can eliminate the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) has been the play of the blue line after the all-Swede top pairing.

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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 5:54 PM

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

Toews, Blackhawks seek 'controlled emotion'

CHICAGO -- After Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews picked up his third penalty in less than six minutes Thursday night, defenseman Brent Seabrook skated over and settled him down while he sat in the penalty box.

The normally staid Toews came a little unglued in the second period of Game 4 in Chicago's Western Conference Semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings, especially after the first infraction, a high-sticking call he adamantly disputed, resulted in what turned out to be the winning goal in a 2-0 result.

After picking up another high-sticking call for his third straight penalty -- this one much more blatant -- Toews angrily headed toward the box while Seabrook, who's had his own struggles, took action.

"He looked frustrated and I don't know if that was a reason for the penalties," said Seabrook, whose ice time has dropped dramatically the past two games. "It was a little bit of bad luck with his stick. I just tried to calm him down and we need him. He's the best player on the team and our leader. If the rest of the group sees him like that it's going to trickle down.

"We need him to be focused and ready and I just told him to sit down and take a couple of deep breaths and get ready to be back out there because we need him."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 1:01 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Blackhawks have positive mindset for Game 4

DETROIT -- Patrick Kane described the mood in the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room as light the morning of Game 4 in the Western Conference Semifinals. Captain Jonathan Toews said it is a happy group.

These quotes wouldn't seem very newsworthy throughout most of the 2012-13 season, considering the way the Blackhawks rolled to the Presidents' Trophy and into the second round of the postseason. But the Blackhawks now are behind the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in this best-of-7 Western Conference Semifinal series, and there was plenty of attention Thursday morning paid to how the Blackhawks would handle the situation.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville switched rookie Brandon Saad and veteran Patrick Sharp on the top two forward lines during Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena, and though Quenneville didn't confirm it, all indications have been that is how the lineup will start for the Blackhawks in Game 4 Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 5:19 PM

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

Blackhawks tweak lines, power-play combinations

CHICAGO -- It appears Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville might stick with a slight change in his forward lines that he put together during Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinal series Monday against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Blackhawks lost 3-1 at Joe Louis Arena and trail 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But Quenneville saw something he liked from flip-flopping his top two left wings, rookie Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.

Saad dropped to the second line to play with center Dave Bolland and right wing Patrick Kane, and Sharp moved up to play the left side of the top line with center Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa.

They stayed that way for line rushes during practice Wednesday at United Center, but Quenneville was still non-committal, officially, when asked about it afterward.

"We'll see on the lines," he said. "I know that it's something we'll talk about going into the game."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 2:51 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Season might not be over for Red Wings' DeKeyser

DETROIT -- When Danny DeKeyser learned he had a broken thumb after Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said the rookie defenseman was done for the remainder of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Well, that might not end up being accurate.

DeKeyser's thumb is healing faster than expected, and the surprising Red Wings keep winning. DeKeyser was set to meet with a team doctor Wednesday after practice at Joe Louis Arena, and his expectation was the hard cast that was protecting his thumb, hand, wrist and part of his forearm was coming off.

"I'm pretty sure," DeKeyser said. "The doc said last week that it looked good and when I saw him [Wednesday] he was going to make a decision on whether it was going to come off but he was pretty sure it was going to be."

The Red Wings will face the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). It will be three weeks to the day of DeKeyser's injury.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.21.2013 / 4:55 PM

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

Faceoffs, puck movement concerns for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks put 40 shots on goal, played much better overall and still lost 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.

The loss put Detroit up 2-1 in what's become a heated Original Six Western Conference Semifinal, but Chicago isn't showing signs of panic.

The core group of stars that powers the Blackhawks also was down 2-1 in the conference quarterfinals against the Nashville Predators at one point in 2010 before coming back to win that series and eventually the Stanley Cup.

"I think we played well [Monday night]," said Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who was on the 2010 championship team. "There were a lot of chances that we could've scored on. We battled really hard and I think it was a pretty good effort overall. They just scored more goals than we did. As long as the battle effort is there, you can't really be too upset with the loss."

Game 4 of the best-of-7 series is Thursday night at Detroit (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2) and each side knows how pivotal it could be.

"We all know the importance of the next game there in [Joe Louis Arena]," Hjalmarsson said. "We’re all focused on that task and looking forward to it."

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Posted On Monday, 05.20.2013 / 2:51 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Brunner proud of Swiss countrymates' silver medal

DETROIT -- A day after Detroit Red Wings forward Damien Brunner said he was looking forward to "collecting some cash" from his Swedish teammates, the Swiss native was no wealthier Monday, but still beamed with pride.

His native country did not pull off a shocking upset in the final of the 2013 IIHF World Championships -- Sweden defeated Switzerland 5-1 -- but the silver medal remains an incredible accomplishment for a burgeoning hockey power.

"Switzerland had a great start. [Roman] Josi scored a really nice goal to get Switzerland up, but then it was kind of bad luck, I think," Brunner said. "We were all over them and then Sweden scored on the first three or four shots two goals. It was kind of unlucky. After that I thought Sweden controlled the goal pretty good. At the end of day, Sweden looked a little bit fresher in this final."

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Posted On Monday, 05.20.2013 / 1:19 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Stalberg, Handzus both in Blackhawks' Game 3 lineup

DETROIT -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville confirmed Viktor Stalberg will return to the lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), and center Michael Handzus will play, but the forward lines could look a little different than they have in the first two games of the series.

Stalberg skated on a line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell during the morning skate Monday at Joe Louis Arena. If that happens, Dave Bolland likely will return to the second line -- where he also spent a good chunk of the regular season -- which would leave Handzus to play on the fourth line. Quenneville did not confirm that Daniel Carcillo is the odd-man out up front, but based on the morning skate he appears to be.

"We all need to be better and we expect everybody to be much better," Quenneville said. "It is across the board. We need more predictability in our game and we need to better in certain areas of the ice."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 4:41 PM

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

Wings found way to clog middle, slow Hawks' attack

CHICAGO -- Mike Babcock wasn't happy with the way his Detroit Red Wings defended the middle of the ice to start their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Chicago Blackhawks this past week, so the coach changed it up.

After dropping the opening game 4-1 at United Center, a better-rested Detroit team paid more attention to the middle of the ice, particularly in the neutral zone, in Game 2 on Saturday. The Red Wings won 4-1 to even the best-of-7 series at a game apiece, but how they did it was impressive.

Detroit made sure the middle of the ice was accounted for almost all game, from the neutral zone all the way back to its net, and pressured Chicago forwards sooner -- gumming up the Blackhawks' rush game before it got started.

"They do a good job of clogging things up and making it tough to skate," Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said after practice Sunday, prior to leaving for Detroit. "Both teams skate really well and both teams are dangerous when their skill players have the puck in open ice. They've always been good at making it tough to get to the net and making it tough to get pucks back on the forecheck. They're a good team at [doing] that."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 2:45 PM

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

Speedy Stalberg likely to return to Blackhawks lineup

CHICAGO -- It's not a guarantee, but it looks like Viktor Stalberg will re-enter the Chicago Blackhawks lineup Monday night for Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

The best-of-7 series is knotted 1-1 with the next two games in Detroit, and the Blackhawks are looking to rebound from a lackluster 4-1 loss in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon at United Center.

Stalberg, a fast-skating right wing, appears on track to get back in the lineup at that position after practicing there Sunday with the linemates he's spent most of the season with: left wing Bryan Bickell and center Andrew Shaw.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after practice Stalberg is likely playing Monday night.

"I think you just keep playing the way I have all year," Stalberg said. "If we get to play together again, we've been effective all year, so I don't think you want to change too much.

"I don't want to make too big of a deal of it. I just want to get back in playing and hopefully that's [Monday]. We'll see what happens. If I get a chance to play, I'll do anything I can to make a difference and help us win these games."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 6:22 PM

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

Miller feels good in return to Red Wings lineup

CHICAGO -- Drew Miller didn't score a goal, didn't record a point, and played 12:07 for the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at United Center in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Blackhawks, but he had an impact in his return from a broken bone in his finger.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 6:16 PM

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

Penalty kill, Kane's goal positives for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- One of the bright spots for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal loss to the Detroit Red Wings was their penalty kill, which remains perfect through seven games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite losing 4-1 at United Center, Chicago went 4-for-4 killing penalties and upped its string of consecutive kills to 24.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 12:59 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Miller replaces Bertuzzi in Red Wings' lineup

CHICAGO -- Drew Miller will return to the lineup for the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at United Center (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

Miller has not played since April 20 against the Vancouver Canucks because of a broken finger. He had four goals and eight points in 44 games for the Red Wings this season.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock has tinkered with his fourth line on several occasions in this postseason. Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton each has sat once, but the third spot has been a bit of a rotation. Todd Bertuzzi, who has no points in the postseason, will sit for the third time.

Here are the projected lineups for the Blackhawks and Red Wings:

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Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 11:11 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Handzus in, Stalberg out for Blackhawks

Michal Handzus will be in the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS), and forward Viktor Stalberg will be a healthy scratch.

Handzus missed practice Friday, the third straight on-ice session, but will be back in his familiar second-line center spot, between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.

Stalberg had one assist in five games in the first round against the Minnesota Wild, but was scratched from the lineup in Game 1 against the Red Wings.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 6:23 PM

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

Red Wings need more kick from Mule

CHICAGO -- If the Detroit Red Wings are going to make their Western Conference Semifinals series close, they know they need an ornery "Mule" on the ice against the favored Chicago Blackhawks.

The hard part for Detroit coach Mike Babcock is pushing the right buttons on Johan Franzen, a Swedish power forward nicknamed "Mule" who can score goals by the bunches in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Red Wings need captain Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to shine, but Franzen has a knack for scoring in the postseason that many players don't possess.

Tapping into that knack consistently, however, can be an issue at times.

Franzen didn't record a point, finished minus-2 and got one shot on goal in the series opener Wednesday at United Center, a 4-1 Chicago victory.

The second game is Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC) in the same building, and the Red Wings hope to see a snorting, sneering Mule on the ice.

"He [can] be pretty mean, but I think he's playing the best hockey when he's a little grumpy," Zetterberg said. "I think maybe it's up to us to get him a little bit grumpy before the games."

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 3:46 PM

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

Stalberg taking demotion in stride

CHICAGO – Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks hit the ice for a practice during their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Detroit Red Wings. And forward Viktor Stalberg again worked outside the top four forward lines.

After playing 47 games in the regular season and all five games of Chicago’s Western Conference Quarterfinal series at right wing on the third line, Stalberg was bumped from the regular playing group prior to the start of the semifinals.

Stalberg was scratched for Game 1 against the Red Wings in what Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville termed a coach’s decision, and his playing status for Game 2 on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) remains up in the air.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 3:02 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Keith, Handzus said to be 'fine' after missing practice

CHICAGO -- Defenseman Duncan Keith and center Michal Handzus did not participate in practice Friday for the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center, but coach Joel Quenneville said both are fine.

Handzus has now skipped the past three on-ice workouts for the Blackhawks. Quenneville was asked if he is nursing a minor injury he can play through.

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 5:31 PM

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

Detroit defensemen see need to improve

CHICAGO – Entering the Western Conference Semifinals, the Detroit Red Wings' hopes of upsetting the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks hinged on the play of their defensemen, especially in the defensive zone.

The Red Wings knew it. Yet there they were in the last 40 minutes of Game 1 on Wednesday night at United Center with pretty much all of their worst nightmares coming to fruition.

They turned over the puck too much against an endless wave of fresh Blackhawks forecheckers. They got stuck on the ice for long stretches and felt their legs turn to jelly. They couldn't complete those desperately needed first passes to the forwards in order to exit the defensive zone for a rush up the ice.

They also wound up hanging goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 38 saves in the contest, out to dry on a night in which he battled hard to keep them in the game. Now it's up to the Red Wings -- especially their blueliners -- to fix things for Game 2 on Saturday (1 p.m., NBC, CBC).

"I think it took way too long for us to get out of our own zone, and when we get out we don't have any energy to attack, so we had to [take chances]," said Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who played on Detroit's top pairing with Niklas Kronwall. "We have to do a much better job in the [defensive zone] and the [defense] has to do a better job of getting the pucks up and the forwards have to do a better job being open."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 4:44 PM

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

Stalberg scratch not about ice-time complaint

CHICAGO -- The Viktor Stalberg saga took another little turn Thursday afternoon at United Center, when Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville met with reporters a day after Chicago's 4-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings in the opening game of the Western Conference Semifinal series.

Quenneville denied the accuracy of a report Wednesday by the Chicago Tribune that Stalberg, who was a healthy scratch for Game 1, was being punished. The report, citing an unidentified source, said Stalberg approached an unnamed Blackhawks coach about his diminished role on the power play in the Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Minnesota Wild.

After logging more than two minutes a game on the man-advantage during 47 games of the regular season, Stalberg averaged 11 seconds of power-play time while playing all five games against the Wild. Quenneville, who did have a conversation with the speedy third-line wing about the situation, was asked directly about the report Thursday by the Tribune's Chris Kuc. The coach categorically denied its validity.

"First of all, that story is 100 percent inaccurate," Quenneville said. "Viktor didn't play and he knows the reasons why. It had nothing to do with anything about our conversation. It was strictly nothing to do with that at all."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 4:33 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Blackhawks' Kruger learning lessons from Toews

CHICAGO -- Marcus Kruger sits next to Jonathan Toews in the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room at United Center, so he doesn’t have to go far to seek advice from his captain.

That works inversely as well. Toews can turn and speak to the 22-year-old Swedish forward when something’s on his mind.

“Every game I get in his ear and tell him to shoot the puck or just go to the net and he's going to get an ugly one, so he scored a nice one last night,” Toews said.

The nice one he was referring to was a goal that put the Blackhawks in front 3-1 against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 4:42 PM

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

Toews, Datsyuk great admirers of each other

CHICAGO -- Ask Jonathan Toews about Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk and his eyes light up a little bit.

The Chicago Blackhawks captain usually tries to fight back a smile, knowing he's talking about a rival team's top player, but it's usually futile. Toews envies Datsyuk's two-way game quite a bit -- making him a lot like the rest of the hockey world -- and 34-year old Datsyuk said he's been impressed by the two-way force 25-year old Toews has grown into in Chicago.

That's why it was somewhat fitting to see each of their names listed Wednesday, along with Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, as Selke Award finalists. The award is given to the NHL's top defensive forward as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 2:47 PM

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

Emmerton added to Red Wings lineup

CHICAGO -- Cory Emmerton will be back in the Detroit Red Wings lineup centering the fourth line when they face off against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at United Center in the first game of their Western Conference Semifinal series.

Emmerton was scratched for Game 7 of Detroit's Western Conference Quarterfinal against the Anaheim Ducks and was replaced by veteran forward Mikael Samuelsson, who has been plagued by injuries all season.

Samuelsson, who missed 41 games with a pair of injuries, hopes to play in this series but had another recent flare-up of an upper-body ailment that initially occurred in a 7-1 loss to Chicago on March 31 at Joe Louis Arena. He played 4:20 in the series-deciding game against the Ducks before apparently reaggravating the injury.

Emmerton said he got the message loud and clear from Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's decision.

"You don't want to watch ever. I got to watch and it wasn't a lot of fun," he said following Detroit's Wednesday morning skate. "I'll do my best to not get in that situation again. Everything's a learning lesson as you go along in your career. You do what you can do, move forward and keep getting better."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 1:58 PM

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

Stalberg finds himself a healthy scratch for opener

CHICAGO -- Instead of manning the right wing on the third line for the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at United Center, speedy forward Viktor Stalberg will be in street clothes when the puck is dropped.

Stalberg will be a healthy scratch when the Blackhawks play host to the Detroit Red Wings in the opener of a highly anticipated Western Conference Semifinal series between the Original Six rivals (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

He's not injured, and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville termed it a coach's decision when asked if there was something other than Stalberg's play factoring into the somewhat curious call to scratch their fastest skater against a fast-paced team like Detroit.

"He's out tonight," Quenneville said. "Coach's decision. I had a conversation with him, so he knows how it stands and [what] the situation is, but we'll leave it at that."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 4:54 PM

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

Teams to take advantage of extra days off

Neither team plans to stick around long after the first and third games of a Western Conference Semifinal series between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.

The series starts Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) and the Red Wings plan to fly back to Detroit prior to Game 2 on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC) in the same arena.

Two days off between games combined with a short flight was too good for the Red Wings to pass up -- regardless how much coach Mike Babcock talked up the great places to eat in Chicago following Detroit's upset of the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series Sunday night.

"It's a little different," Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard told reporters following a Tuesday practice in Detroit. "I wasn't expecting all of this time off, but we'll definitely use it to our advantage of not really hanging out in Chicago and coming back here. The comfortability is a lot more."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 4:27 PM

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

Stalberg could find himself watching start of series

CHICAGO -- Viktor Stalberg has practiced outside of the top four lines, in a white jersey, for each of the three practices the Chicago Blackhawks have held since winning their Western Conference Quarterfinal series last week.

That's usually a designation for a player who is injured -- meaning it's a non-contact jersey -- or for those who aren't being considered for the active lineup. The Blackhawks open their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) and Stalberg isn’t injured.

So that can mean only one thing: He’s in coach Joel Quenneville's doghouse for some reason, likely based on his play in the first round against the Minnesota Wild. The only way to get out is to wait for another chance to impress, after finishing the first series with one assist.

"Stay ready," Quenneville said Tuesday when asked what Stalberg can do to get himself back on his usual spot at right wing of the third line. "Nobody said he's out of the lineup (for Game 1), but … make decisions tough on us."

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Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threatening illness