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Blackhawks vs. Predators blog

By NHL.com Staff

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Blackhawks vs. Predators blog
Go behind the scenes and stay up to speed on everything this 2-7 matchup has to offer.
Hornqvist to skate in warm-ups, return possible
04.26.10 / 12:27 PM ET

The news in regard to injured Nashville right wing Patric Hornqvist's status looked more hopeful for the Predators entering Game 6 than it has been at any time since he last played in this series in Game 1.

Hornqvist, Nashville's leader in goals and power-play goals during the regular season, will take part in pregame warm-ups before the decision is made as to whether he will play, Predators coach Barry Trotz said.

Hornqvist would not say whether he was playing, still going with the "game-time decision" mantra, but this time he sounded different.

"It feels good," Hornqvist said. "I'm looking forward for tonight."

That tonal change also included Trotz. Asked if Hornqvist sounded more optimistic about his ability to play, Trotz said, "Correct, yeah," and cut himself short of saying Hornqvist was making progress on his recovery from an upper-body injury.

"That'll be a game-time decision," Trotz said. "But he's made. ... No, really it will be. He will be out there for warm-ups and we'll make a decision after warm-up."

Hornqvist scored 10 of Nashville's 47 power-play goals during the regular season (21.3 percent), and Nashville has yet to score a power-play goal in the series -- a fact that has hurt them immeasurably as they trail the series 3-2 entering Monday's game.

"We've got a plan of doing a couple of things different," Trotz said. "...We got stubborn in our train of thought, if you will. We got a little frustrated in forcing things that aren't there.

"When we should be passing we're shooting, and when we should be passing we're shooting. It's not a rut, but we're trying so hard. We have to re-think what we're doing. If you're not working right, you're not working effectively. Segments of our power pay aren't working well."

--John Manasso

A first for Hawks in stunning Game 5 win
04.24.10 / 7:30 PM ET

Suffice it to say that Marian Hossa is the most relieved man in Chicago -- with a big assist from Patrick Kane.

Hossa appeared to put the final nail in the Hawks' coffin in Game 5 when he was called for a boarding major with 1:03 left and Nashville leading 4-3. But Kane tied the game with 13.6 seconds left and goaltender Antti Niemi off for an extra attacker -- the first player in NHL history ever to tie a playoff game with a shorthanded goal in the final minute, Hossa served the final 3:57 of his penalty at the start of overtime, then came back on the ice and wound up scoring the game-winner 10 seconds later, turning an apparent loss into a 5-4 victory.

Game 6 is Monday night in Nashville.

--John Kreiser

Campbell back as Hawks shake up lineup
04.22.10 / 8:30 PM ET

Both coaches made lineup moves for Game 4, with Chicago coach Joel Quenneville shaking things up with three changes.

The biggest addition for Chicago was the return of defenseman Brian Campbell, who hasn't played since breaking his collarbone after being hit by Washington's Alex Ovechkin in a game on March 14. Quenneville also opted to dress forwards Adam Burish, who missed much of the season with knee surgery, and rookie Brian Bickell.

The odd men out were defenseman Jordan Hendry and forwards Ben Eager and Colin Fraser.

Quenneville also juggled his lines, putting Bickell on the left side with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, while moving Marian Hossa onto a line with Tomas Kopecky and Patrick Sharp.

Nashville again will play without forward Patric Hornqvist, who's sidelined with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Denis Grebeshkov, who's recovered from a lower-body injury and was cleared to play earlier in the series, was again a healthy scratch.

--John Manasso

Campbell could return tonight
4.22.10 / 1:44 PM ET

Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell, who has been out of the lineup with a broken collarbone since March 14, will be a game-time decision tonight, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said following his team's morning skate.

Campbell is one of Chicago's top defensemen, finishing in a virtual dead heat with Brent Seabrook in regular-season ice time at 23:12 per game (Seabrook averaged 23:13).

Quenneville said Campbell will participate in pregame warm-ups and then the coaching staff will decide.
 
"He's been skating for a while," Quenneville said. "He's been in practice for over a week and taking contact, so we'll see."

Campbell said the decision was up to "the doctors, myself and the team, the coaches."

"Wait and see how everything goes whether I got or not," said Campbell. "Obviously it's getting closer so that's the main thing …

"Obviously, I'm starting to feel pretty good. I'm getting closer to that timetable."

Asked how he would feel about taking that first hit, Campbell responded, "I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun. It's playoff hockey. It's going to happen. You have to play physical in the playoffs. I've been around long enough that I've played a lot of games. There's a reason why -- I know how to protect myself out there. For myself, the shoulder's starting to feel really good and I don't expect that to be a problem."

-- John Manasso

Trotz: Hornqvist's status 'really hasn't changed'
4.21.10 / 2:50 PM ET

Nashville coach Barry Trotz made Tuesday's practice optional after his team's convincing 4-1 victory in Game 3 over Chicago. Only a few players took the ice – mainly those who have been healthy scratches.

But Trotz expected that one of them would be right wing Patric Hornqvist, the team's leading scorer who has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury.

Trotz said Hornqvist has had no change in his status.

"Patric will probably be a game-time decision, as it has been," Trotz said. "His status really hasn't changed. I do expect him probably to skate a little bit today out here."

Joel Ward skated in Hornqvist's place on Nashville's line with Marcel Goc and Steve Sullivan. In Game 3, the 6-foot-1, 218-pound Ward, who scored 13 goals in 71 games during the regular season, scored Nashville's first goal, on which Sullivan had the primary assist.

"Everyone's interchangeable," Sullivan said. "We don't have any superstars. We've had to shuffle lines all year with injuries. Everyone's played with everyone so when things go south or we have to make some changes or there's injuries, everyone's used to playing with everyone else.

"Wardo is the type of player that brings it all. He gets in on the forecheck. He's unbelievable at puck protection, gets in front of the net. He can screen guys. He just really uses his body to his advantage. So he had a really good game yesterday."

-- John Manasso

Hornqvist status update
4.20.10 / 2:30 p.m. ET

Nashville coach Barry Trotz said after his team’s morning skate that the status of the leading goal scorer, winger Patric Hornqvist, would be a game-time decision for Game 3 tonight.

On Monday, all Hornqvist would tell reporters was, “its upper body, that’s all I want to say. It’s day by day.”

The second-year player who skated for Sweden’s Olympic team was not in the team’s dressing room after the skate.

Hornqvist, whose 30 goals were nine more than any of his teammates during the regular season, did not take part in the skate.

Hornqvist sat out Game 2 after playing in Game 1. However, he missed much of the third period with what the team said was an equipment issue. He also did not play in the final game of the regular season with an upper-body injury.

The Predators aren’t the highest scoring of teams – they ranked 18th in the NHL in goals-per-game during the regular season – so Hornqvist's absence is especially glaring for them.

Nonetheless, Trotz hinted that he might make other lineup changes. One possibility is defenseman Denis Grebeshkov, a trade-deadline acquisition from Edmonton who has been medically cleared to play but has yet to be in the lineup in the series.

"I might tweak our lineup a little bit," Trotz said.

If Grebeshkov is in the lineup, one possibility is that rookie Cody Franson could come out. Franson played only 5:58 in Game 1 and 8:56 in Game 2 – with nearly half of it coming on the power play, which has yet to connect for the Preds.

-- John Manasso

Selke props for Toews
4.20.10 / 2:30 p.m. ET

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was asked his thoughts about Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews failing to earn enough votes to be one of the three finalists for the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward), which were announced earlier in the day.

“I didn’t see the list but I think Johnny, he’s new as far as being considered around the League,” Quenneville said. “I don’t think he got much consideration for that over the last few years. But watching him play in the Olympics and having an appreciating for him watching him play day-in-and-day out, he can play both sides of the puck.

“He can kill penalties. His strength in the faceoff circle is something we really appreciate. We really think he’s progressed in his -- we’ll call it a well-rounded player and a well-rounded career. I’m sure Johnny will keep progressing to the point in his career where he’ll be considered in that role. I still think he likes both sides equally well.”

-- John Manasso

Some things to watch for in Game 2
04/18.10/ 10:00 p.m.

Hawks forward Ben Eager took a run at Jerred Smithson at the very end of Game 1, after Nashville had scored two empty-netters (one by Smithson). He got him into the boards pretty good.

Also, Marian Hossa really leveled Patric Hornqvist during the second period of Game 1 and kind of got his elbows up a little on the hit without a call. Hornqvist, who missed the last two games of the regular season with an upper-body injury left the ice and didn't play much in the third period. He skated today though and is said to be good to go.

Wonder if the Preds will seek to land an extra check or two against Hossa and/or Eager tonight. If so, one guy who won't be doing it will be Hornqvist, who was scratched.

It will also be interesting to see if the Hawks play John Madden's line against Jason Arnott's – the two know each other well after playing for New Jersey (and winning a Cup together).

--Brian Hedger

Grebeshkov, Johnsson among scratches

4.16.2010 / 8:50 p.m. ET

No real surprises among the scratches.

Nashville sat defenseman Denis Grebeshkov, who's missed more than a month with a lower-body injury. Preds coach Barry Trotz said earlier in the day that Grebeshkov was ready to play but opten not to use him. Forwards Wade Belak, Dustin Boyd and Ca O'Reilly were Nashville's other scratches.

Chicago is still without two top defensemen, Kim Johnsson (consussion) and Brian Campbell (broken collarbone). Also sitting are defenseman Nick Boynton and forwards Bryan Bickell and Adam Burish.

Pekka Rinne (Nashville) and Antti Niemi (Chicago) started in a battle of Finnish goaltenders who didn't make their country's Olympic team.

--Brian Hedger

Pre-game notes
4.16.2010 / 3:05 p.m. ET

Happy return -- Steve Sullivan of the Predators played for Chicago from 1999 to 2004 and helped the Hawks make the 2002 playoffs.

His time spent with Chicago, however, was largely in a losing effort. That's why he had kind words about what the Hawks have accomplished since being dealt away in 2004.

"What a great turnaround," said Sullivan, the Preds' co-leader in points with 51. "This city needed it. It's such a great city. It's such a great organization. It's got such a great history, that it deserves it. I'm very happy for both the organization and the city that they have a great hockey club."

Parity rules -- Nashville's Ryan Suter thinks this week's plentiful "upsets" prove only how far the talent is spread throughout the League.

The Predators are the No.7 seed in the Western Conference, yet finished with 100 points.

"Every team is good," Suter said. "Every team brings something different. That's very important when it comes to the playoffs. Any team can win. It doesn't matter whether you're (seeded) first or last."

Just kidding -- Patrick Kane has now added something to his "Joe Dirt" Playoffs mullet to send a message to those who think he's completely lost his mind.

"People were looking at me like, ‘Is he serious with that haircut or is that just a joke?' " Kane said. "So, I just tried to add the steps in there to solidify that it is a joke."

Regardless, his mother and sisters were not pleased when they saw it.

"They were like, 'Oh, shave it off!' " he said.

-- Brian Hedger

Home not as sweet?
04.15.2010 / 5:01 PM ET

Legendary coach Scotty Bowman made an appearance in the Hawks' dressing room after practice Thursday and said he was intrigued by Wednesday's games.
 
The one thing that he took from the upsets is that home ice might not be as important as it used to be.
 
"It doesn't seem to be the same as when I first started," said Bowman, who won nine Cups with three separate teams. "More times than not, you'd hold serve and win your first two and then go on the road and they'd win two. There (weren't) many breakthroughs. (Now), the home team can still have an edge, but I don't think it's quite the same edge as it was."
 
Bowman is in his second season as a senior advisor of hockey operations for the Hawks, who many are picking to end Chicago's 49-year Cup drought this year. Bowman cautioned against thinking too far ahead.
 
"They had 52 wins during the season … but Nashville won 47 games," said Bowman, whose son Stan Bowman is the Hawks' general manager. "It's a lot closer than you might envision. When you win two rounds and you lose in the third round (like last year), it's a lot to even get back to that."

-- Brian Hedger

Membership denied
04.15.2010 / 5:01 PM ET

The Hawks have been asked a version of the same thing all week regarding young Finnish goalie Antti Niemi: "Is he always this quiet?"
 
Their answer is yes, he is. Quenneville likes Niemi's quiet personality, but admitted that it isn't like many other goalies that he's ever been around.
 
"As a guy he is as zero or no maintenance as any guy I've been around … especially for goalies," Quenneville said. "You know, they've got their own union. I don't know if he'd be accepted."

-- Brian Hedger

Getting started
04.15.2010 / 5:01 PM ET

The United Center should be raucous when the Hawks and Preds face off Friday, and Quenneville hopes the energy lifts his team to an early lead.
 
The Hawks finished the season with an impressive 30-7-5 record when leading after the first period and hope to extend the trend into the Playoffs.
 
"We want to emphasize the enthusiasm in the building," Quenneville said. "Let's translate that into a strong start."

-- Brian Hedger

Campbell back on the ice

04.14.2010 / 4:48 PM ET

Brian Campbell is back at practice with the Blackhawks and it's possible he could play in Round 1 vs. Nashville.

NHL.com Correspondent Brian Hedger has the full story.

Quote of the Day

Fifty-five? That's shorts weather.

— New Anaheim Ducks forward, and Michigan native, Ryan Kesler on locals in Southern California considering 55 degrees to be cold
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