Brent Seabrook fine, will play vs. Capitals

Brent Seabrook fine, will play vs. Capitals

Brent Seabrook did not practice on Thursday but he's expected to play Friday when the Blackhawks face the Washington Capitals.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Seabrook was, "fine," and that the defenseman would travel to Washington. Corey Crawford will start. The Capitals, coming off a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, have now won seven in a row.

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"This year [the Capitals] started off OK but now they have that extra gear," Quenneville said. "This will be a great test for us tomorrow. It's definitely going to be interesting."

Marcus Kruger, who's been out nearly two weeks, could skate on Friday morning. Quenneville said Kruger is still on the original three-week timetable to return. 

Blackhawks will be well represented at NHL All-Star Game

Blackhawks will be well represented at NHL All-Star Game

The Blackhawks players started banging their sticks on the ice following coach Joel Quenneville’s announcement.

One year after having just one representative at the NHL All-Star Game, the Blackhawks are slated to have four this year.

Patrick Kane, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews were named to this year’s All-Star Game, which will be Jan. 29 in Los Angeles. It was a privilege for all selected and for one, somewhat of a surprise.

“I really didn’t expect to hear my name get called for the all-star game this year, knowing how great of a season (Marian Hossa, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov) are having. No doubt about it, they’re much more deserving,” said Toews, who was also selected last season but had to bow out due to illness. “In some ways maybe they can take advantage of the rest and continue the way they’re playing after the game. But definitely would like to see those guys get what they deserve and get that recognition.”

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Indeed, based on their performances this season, there’s certainly a case for all three of those players who aren’t going. Anisimov leads the Blackhawks with 18 goals. Hossa has 16 goals and Panarin is second on the team with 41 points (Kane leads with 44).

For Kane and Toews, this is the sixth time they’ve been selected for the game. This is Keith’s fourth selection and Crawford’s second. Kane, last year’s lone Blackhawks representative after Toews fell ill, said it’ll be nice to have a few teammates along.

“It’s a lot more enjoyable, a lot more fun when you have your teammates there,” said Kane, who agreed others could have easily been selected, too. “You could throw Anisimov in there, Hossa, Hjalmarsson, [Brent Seabrook], we could have a bunch of guys going. I guess there are only so many spots given.”

There are always guys who get left off these rosters. It’s the way it goes with trying to get other teams’ represented. But the Blackhawks will still get a good group of players headed to the game, and they’ll enjoy the weekend.

“Every time you get named to something like this, special feeling. A lot of great players in the league who could go but aren’t going,” Keith said. “I’m fortunate to be part of a group of great players that make me play better, too.”

Youth gains experience during Blackhawks’ injury woes

Youth gains experience during Blackhawks’ injury woes

NEW YORK – As the Blackhawks wrapped up their four-game homestand on Sunday, it appeared something else was ending: their rash of injuries.

With that in mind, Marian Hossa reflected on what healthy Blackhawks, especially younger players, meant to the team in Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook’s absence.

“Well, this was definitely a good test of what the team can do without key players,” Hossa said. “It’s hard to replace guys like that… but I think with the little things, guys doing baby steps, those guys get opportunities to play more and they’re taking advantage of it. That’s good for the future, when everybody’s going to be back.”

Indeed, with Toews and Seabrook back on Tuesday, the Blackhawks looked more complete in terms of roster and play in their 2-1 victory over the Rangers. Certainly, two veterans coming back does that. But the Blackhawks’ young players earned valuable experience during the injury rash and that’s showing in their games.

“It definitely gave a lot of guys extra responsibilities, ice time to try and make up for the missing parts, but I think we all did a good job,” said Ryan Hartman, who’s played with Marian Hossa for some time now. “I think it helped us feel a little more comfortable. Now having [Toews and Seabrook] back is a great thing. It’ll add more depth to our team, for sure.”

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The Blackhawks did all right in Toews’ absence, going 5-2-2. When it came to younger players, coach Joel Quenneville got an idea of who can do what in an injury pinch.

“It gives you more options and you find out a little bit more. Guys that are playing maybe even out of position, or they’re taking some center spots in your own zone and taking some important faceoffs late in games against some top lines,” Quenneville said. “I think those experiences can add, as the season progresses, you can trust them and sometimes you can put them out there in those situations.”

Vinnie Hinostroza jumped around the lineup during Toews’ absence and learned plenty.

“It’s huge for us young guys to get some more minutes against top-end guys, other team’s first and second lines. That’s just part of the learning experience and playing against those guys will only make us better,” Hinostroza said. “We were on and off a few games, missing Toews and Seabs. But overall I think we did pretty well.”

Yeah, the Blackhawks did just fine with some of their top guys out. They’re still awaiting Crawford’s return, but Scott Darling has done great work in his absence. As for the guys in front of Darling, the trial-by-fire experience could be a little daunting at times. It was also beneficial, not just for their hockey education now but also for their games in the future.

“I think you’ve got to earn those opportunities as you go along, and then when you get it, get out there and take advantage of it. That’s a bonus for our team,” Quenneville said. “They’ve got some exposure to those situations now.”