Bolland, Smith out Friday; Hawks recall Pirri

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Bolland, Smith out Friday; Hawks recall Pirri

READ: Kane embracing new roleREAD: Bolland, Smith questionable for openerWATCH: Mikita discusses new book on CTL

The Chicago Blackhawks will start their season without Dave Bolland, but there's hope the center will return for Saturday night's home opener.

Bolland practiced for the first time in over a week on Thursday, as he was sidelined with an upper body injury. Bolland, who will not play in Dallas on Friday night, said this injury was not related to his concussion and back problems of the past. Nevertheless it's one more injury for Bolland, who has struggled with them plenty already.

"You always wish you could stay healthy but little things can come out of nowhere," he said. "You're working hard out there and you wish you could get through a whole career with no injury. But some guys it happens to and some guys it doesn't. It's just the way things happen."

Forward Ben Smith did not practice at all on Thursday and is also out for Friday. Smith is still coming back from a concussion he sustained last week against the Detroit Red Wings and has not been cleared for contact. Asked if Smith not practicing was a setback, coach Joel Quenneville said, "it's part of the process."

Quenneville said it's possible the Blackhawks dress seven defensemen Friday.

Meanwhile, Brandon Pirri was recalled from Rockford and will play Friday. Pirri was centering Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik at Thursday's practice and Quenneville said he could play some with them in the season opener. Pirri wants to make the most of the opportunity.

"If I'm lucky enough to play a couple years in this league, it'll be the same feeling every game. This is just a childhood dream to play in the NHL," said Pirri, who had five points in the preseason. "I wanted to feel confident playing; that's when I play my best."

Montador adjusting

Defenseman Steve Montador said it's been an adjustment to the Blackhawks this preseason. But he said he's felt better about his game as camp's continued.

"It's been an adjustment but I'm as comfortable as I've ever been being here. I know when I'm in the right place," said Montador, who was paired with John Scott in Thursday's practice. "There's a lot of adjustment but I'm in a good place now."

Montador, who signed a four-year deal with the Blackhawks this offseason, didn't talk of specific adjustments. He's getting used to a new system and teammates, which could always be part of it. Coach Joel Quenneville said Montador had a "so-so camp" but improved as it went along -- "once he gets more acclimated and comfortable his game will get to where it needs to be," Quenneville said.

Montador said the same.

"I wouldn't say i was overall happy with it all, but that's a benefit that the games don't count. They're gone and now it's the regular season," he said. "It just takes time on some things, and time is taking time."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks recall Johansson, assign Schmaltz

Blackhawks recall Johansson, assign Schmaltz

The Blackhawks will be without their No. 1 goaltender for a few weeks, so the obvious backup call-up came on Sunday morning.

At the same time, the Blackhawks are going to give one of their forwards a little work in the minors.

The Blackhawks recalled goaltender Lars Johansson from the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday morning. They also assigned forward Nick Schmaltz to the IceHogs.

Johansson has a 6-7-1 mark with 2.63 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 16 games. This comes one day after Corey Crawford had an appendectomy in Philadelphia prior to the Blackhawks’ 3-1 loss there. Crawford, according to the team, is expected to be out 2-3 weeks.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Schmaltz has a goal and three assists in 26 games with the Blackhawks this season. Schmaltz is one of several forwards who got a top-line opportunity this season and, much like most of the others, couldn’t stick there. He has struggled to find a consistent game.

The Blackhawks face the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night. Scott Darling is expected to get the start.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Jets tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Jets tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Seeking revenge.

In their first meeting of the season, the Jets ended the Blackhawks' 11-game point streak by shutting them out 4-0 in Winnipeg. The Blackhawks will look to get even tonight when the Jets come into their building, where the Blackhawks are 10-1-2. The Jets haven't been as successful away from home, carrying a 4-8-2 road record into the United Center.

2. Tired legs? Not so fast.

It will be a quick turnaround for the Blackhawks, who will play their second game in as many days traveling from Philadelphia to Chicago. But don't expect fatigue to play too much of a role. Well, maybe it will, but the Blackhawks have been close to perfect in the second of a back-to-back with a 4-0-1 record compared to 3-3-0 in the first game. It also helps that Saturday's game against the Flyers was at 12 p.m., giving the team some extra time to recover for a divisional matchup. The Jets, on the other hand, will being playing in their second game in as many nights as well, having played St. Louis last night which ended in a 3-2 overtime win for the Jets. 

3. Who's in, who's out on D?

Trevor van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup Saturday, and certainly showed some rust after missing more than six weeks with an upper-body injury. With it being the second of a back-to-back, the Blackhawks could look to rotate the blue line and reinsert Gustav Forsling, who was a healthy scratch for the first time, back into the equation and perhaps Michal Rozsival, too.

4. Patrik Laine.

The No. 2 overall pick in 2016 has scored four goals and an assist in his last three games, continuing his phenomenal rookie campagin. He's on pace to reach almost 40 goals, which is incredible for a rookie in an era where scoring gets harder and harder. He's tied with Sidney Crosby for the league lead with 16 goals, one of which came against Chicago in the first meeting. 

5. Capitalize on special teams.

The Jets haven't been particularly good on special teams lately. They're 3-for-26 on the power play in their last 10 games, which is an 11.5 percent success rate, and are 26-for-36 on the penalty kill (72.2 percent) in their last eight. Their power play percentage ranks 20th in the league at 15.2 and penalty kill ranks 25th at 79.0. They're trending in the wrong direction. The Blackhawks are still struggling to find a rhythm on the power play, so perhaps this is a good opportunity to break through.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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