Niklas Hjalmarsson left practice early on Friday, but he will make the trip to Dallas, where the Chicago Blackhawks will play the Stars on Saturday.
Hjalmarsson was taking part in practice until about 10 minutes before it ended on Friday morning. He went to the locker room and did not return. Coach Joel Quenneville said Hjalmarsson has an upper-body injury but “should be fine.”
Corey Crawford will get the start against the Stars, who are coming off a 3-0-0 road trip that concluded with a 4-3 overtime victory in Detroit on Thursday night. Quenneville said the Blackhawks will have to put their road-best game forward against a confident Stars bunch.
“We want to make sure we’re emphasizing the importance of every game. (The Stars) are coming off a good road trip, and they’re going to be excited about being home. That’s our concentration right now,” Quenneville said. “I liked our approach going into Winnipeg, but let’s take it one game at a time.”
Meanwhile, center Michal Handzus (upper body) once again skated solo on Friday. But Quenneville said the veteran is “still a bit away” from joining the Blackhawks at practice.
Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen was fired on Friday morning, a day after the Panthers lost to the Boston Bruins, 4-1, capping a seven-game winless streak. Coaches always feel for their brethren when they lose their jobs. That includes Quenneville, who is a close friend of Dineen’s and tried to get in touch with his former Hartford Whalers teammate earlier today.
“It’s a tough part of our business,” said Quenneville. “As a player, getting traded is the downer. As coaches, getting relieved of your duties is as tough as it gets. It’s not a good day. You just have to pick yourself up and keep fighting.”
— Quenneville said Jeremy Morin, who was a healthy scratch on Wednesday, falls into the Brandon Pirri category as far as what he needs to work on: “Offensively, we know they can do things. It’s how they play on the defensive side that’s the measuring stick as far as how much, the quality (of ice time).”
— Quenneville wasn’t sure if Nikolai Khabibulin would get the start against the Edmonton Oilers, his former team, when the Blackhawks play them in Chicago on Sunday night.