Bowman targeting D-man, center via trade

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Bowman targeting D-man, center via trade

PHILADELPHIA -- Chicago Blackhawks general manger Stan Bowman is always looking at the potential trade landscape, and wouldnt mind adding a solid defenseman or center.

Only thing is, he wont be alone in that.

Bowman and the Blackhawks have a pretty little bundle of salary-cap cash to use if or when they decide to add pieces to this team. Bowman said hes been watching the landscape for a while, but hes willing to wait for the right move.

And defenseman and center are at the top of the wish list.

I think you can never have enough defensemen. I think last year Vancouver used 10 or 11? Up front, I think you can make the same argument for a centerman, Bowman said. But if you talk to the other GMs, and Ive talked to a lot recently, theyre looking for center and defense as well. Those are the positions most in demand. Were probably not unique that way.

Bowman said right now it was hard to say if the Blackhawks could pull off a big deal.

All we can do is keep in touch with (teams), and if theyre ready to start making trades, well talk and see if theres a fit there, he said. You cant force them. We talk and we let them know the players we like. When we get around to it, we keep on top of it. But it takes two to tango.

The Blackhawks can afford to wait. They entered Thursday nights game in Philadelphia second in the Western Conference, one point behind the Vancouver Canucks. They enjoyed health through most of this season, with injuries just cropping up recently (Steve Montador and Marcus Kruger are on injured reserve, and Daniel Carcillo may face rehab or surgery for his injury).

But while Bowman mulls potential moves, he and the Blackhawks have taken advantage of their deep resources in Rockford. Several IceHogs have had opportunities with the big club this season, and forwards Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw along with defenseman Dylan Olsen are getting theirs now. Hayes has two goals in as many games, while Shaw scored his first-career NHL goal Thursday in Philadelphia.

If nothing else, its a good audition for those young guys.

They never know if theyre going to get another game, so theyll try to put their best foot forward. Its exciting for them. Its their dream to play in the NHL, Bowman said. It gives us a good opportunity to see how these players are progressing. We can assess where theyre at and go from there.

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler won't be making a surprise return to the Cubs next season.

Fowler is closing in on a deal to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

The Cubs signed outfielder Jon Jay last week to a one-year deal, pretty much sealing Fowler's future with the Cubs.

In two seasons in Chicago, Fowler batted .261/.367/.427 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI, and a World Series ring.

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”