Hinrich making progress, hopes to play in Bulls opener


Hinrich making progress, hopes to play in Bulls opener

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Bulls starting point guard Kirk Hinrich fully participated in the team's practice Monday afternoon at the Berto Center and while neither he nor Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau would commit to saying that the veteran will be ready for the Halloween season opener, they both indicated that he's making progress. Hinrich received treatment after the afternoon session and was optimistic about the strained right groin injury suffered in the preseason not keeping him out of his regular-season return to the United Center.

"I'm doing much better," Hinrich said. "I participated in practice today and was pretty pleased about it.

"As of right now, if I don't have any setbacks tomorrow or anything, I plan on playing," he added. "It's something I've never really have before, I'm just happy with the improvement, and I just felt it was important for me today to get out there and get some reps, and try to test it as much as I could.

"For a chance to be playing, I was going to be out here a couple days to see how it feels and I was very happy with it today, so moving forward, I'm going to approach tomorrow the same way and try to get through a full practice without any issues and see how I'm feeling."

Thibodeau concurred: "He was fine, a little bit better today. Practiced, went well, so we'll see where we are tomorrow."

Between Hinrich's original stint in Chicago and his return this season, he's been nicked up with various ailments while playing in Atlanta and Washington. Although his hard-charging style hasn't changed much since his younger days, the veteran explained that he now takes a different approach when he's banged up.

"All I can do is get my treatment, try to give an honest opinion of how I feel and try to test it out, and push it in ways that I'll be pushed in the game, so I felt like today was very positive in that regard," Hinrich said. "I'm probably a little bit smarter. I've had some injuries that have kept me out for extended periods of time at this point in my career. Just smarter in that regard."

Morning Update: Blackhawks lose thriller to Rangers; Fowler signs with Cardinals

Morning Update: Blackhawks lose thriller to Rangers; Fowler signs with Cardinals

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Rangers: Duels and denied goals

Five Things from Blackhawks-Rangers: Duels and denied goals

There are a lot of similarities between the Blackhawks and the New York Rangers. Both have a nice record to start this season and both are getting through recent injuries as best they can.

And thanks to their goaltending, they had a pretty fun little battle on Friday night.

Antti Raanta edged Scott Darling as the Rangers took a 1-0 overtime victory over the Blackhawks on Friday. It was surprising that Raanta got the start, only because he had started for the Rangers on Thursday against Winnipeg. But he’s been hot, he’s good at the United Center in his career and obviously it was the right decision.

The Blackhawks are back at it on Sunday against another team going through its injury issues, the Dallas Stars. Before then, however, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ overtime loss to the Rangers.

1. A familiar goalie duel. Two seasons ago Scott Darling and Antti Raanta were fighting for the Blackhawks’ backup goaltending spot. So it seemed fitting that they face each other on Friday night. They didn’t disappoint. Each goaltender had his share of stellar stops, many coming in the second period as each team looked for an edge. Raanta got the victory, running his record at the United Center to 15-0-3. The two had a quick, good-natured talk at the end of the game. “It was all friendly,” Darling said. “We were just saying, ‘good job’ and we’re happy for one another.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

2. Kane alright. Patrick Kane got the concussion protocol call in the second period a few moments after he was hit into the glass by Nick Holden. After Kane was called for high-sticking he was sent to the locker room, returning as the Blackhawks went on their first power play of the night at 17:28 of the second period.

3. The Rangers’ successful challenge. Just when you thought the Blackhawks were taking a 1-0 lead the third period (Marian Hossa), the Rangers challenged for offside. They won, nullifying Hossa’s attempt at his 15th goal of the season. Hossa was disappointed, and is frustrated at how some of the rule changes are taking away goals when the league is trying to increase scoring. Coach Joel Quenneville, when asked if he’d like the rule changed if he could, laughed. “Right now? Sure.”

4. A better all-around game. We may be harping on the Blackhawks’ injury situation but when you’re missing three key guys (Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford) it’s going to alter your game. But the Blackhawks played a strong all-around game against the Rangers and had some good scoring chances. All things considered, and against a very good Rangers team, Quenneville liked what he saw. “We know they’re a dangerous team off the rush, a lot of guys can make plays, a ton of speed. You have to respect that in ways and they check well in their own end,” Quenneville said. “I thought we did some good things. I think on the rush game we did a good job of taking away that danger.”

5. When will the Blackhawks return to health? Yeah, we’re looking ahead a little bit on this one, and we may have a clearer picture by Saturday morning. If Toews and Seabrook are skating and come out of the session well, there’s a chance they could play on Sunday. The Blackhawks have done alright despite the injuries. But you have to wonder when they start feeling a bit depleted.