Blackhawks acquire Morrison from Flames

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Blackhawks acquire Morrison from Flames

OTTAWA, Ontario The Chicago Blackhawks were looking to get some experience at center. Now they have it.

The Blackhawks acquired center Brendan Morrison from the Calgary Flames on Friday night, in exchange for defenseman Brian Connelly. It was a move that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman had been looking at for a while. And its one that gives the team more experience at a position where they dont have a lot of it.

Were not a strong team in terms of NHL experience at center, Bowman said on a conference call Friday night. I like our depth with whats coming (Brandon Pirri, Marcus Kruger). Toews and Bolland are established. And now we have another established, legitimate center.

Bowman added that this move had nothing to do with the fact that Jonathan Toews is injured. He reiterated what coach Joel Quenneville has said all along: Toews injury isnt serious, and Bowman said the captain is targeted to return Tuesday against Vancouver.

The 36-year-old Morrison, who spent eight seasons with the Canucks, will make his Blackhawks debut against them on Tuesday. He has 200 goals and 601 points in his NHL career. More important, the veteran has gone to the playoffs nine times during his career. He said he was ecstatic to join the Blackhawks.

This team has as good a chance as any to compete for the Cup, Morrison said. Im going to come in and be a guy whos a leader when I can and be helpful wherever I can: special teams, 5 on 5, any situation. Im excited about core of this team.

When healthy, Morrison is a dependable player. Hes centered some great wingers, including the Flames Jarome Iginla. Morrison tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last March against the Chicago Blackhawks, and had surgery on it about a month later -- he had the same injury and surgery to the right knee three years prior to that. But Morrison said the knee is fine.

I forced myself back into action sooner than anticipated (early this season). But theres no issue as far as re-injuring the knee. I know its fine, he said. Ive been playing for past few months. Its solid and strong.

Morrison said some Blackhawks were taunting him as he skated off with that injury last March. The culprit was never identified. Morrison said hes not revisiting it.

To me thats a dead issue, he said. Ive turned the page from that. I have no issues with that at all moving forward.

As for more deals, Bowman wouldnt say he was finished. Hes said several times that hes still looking for a defenseman, and that hasnt changed. The trade deadline is Feb. 27, so Bowman still has plenty of time and cap space to get what he wants.

(This move) obviously doesnt impact defense. That hasnt changed, Bowman said. Were still a month away from the deadline. Im not going to rule out anything.

Marcus Kruger activated off IR ahead of Blackhawks-Lightning

Marcus Kruger activated off IR ahead of Blackhawks-Lightning

Dennis Rasmussen or Marcus Kruger could play Tuesday night and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Rasmussen did not skate Tuesday morning due to illness but coach Joel Quenneville said the center could still play vs. the Lightning. Quenneville said Kruger is "close" to playing — he was activated off injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon — and his status could depend on how Rasmussen feels.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks, sitting in second place in the Western Conference, are on a three-game winning streak entering Tuesday's game. The Lightning, the Blackhawks' 2015 Stanley Cup opponent, has struggled with injuries (Steven Stamkos has been out since November) and is last in the Eastern Conference. Despite the Lightning's struggles, Quenneville isn't taking the team lightly.

"Obviously they've had some health issues, significant guys missing big stretches of their year, but they still have guys out there that are skilled and it's an extremely dangerous team and a very competitive East side," Quenneville said. "I'm sure they'll be ready for tonight."

Andrei Vasilevskiy will start Tuesday night for the Lightning. Coach Jon Cooper said J.T. Brown and Jason Garrison are game-time decisions.

BLACKHAWKS VS. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

7:30 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com or NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Vinnie Hinostroza-Tanner Kero-Marian Hossa
Andrew Desjardins-Dennis Rasmussen-Nick Schmaltz

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Marcus Kruger (right arm), Dennis Rasmussen (ill).

Tampa Bay Lightning (projected; some are game-time decisions)

Forward lines

Ondrej Palat-Vladislav Namestnikov-Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn-Tyler Johnson-J.T. Brown
Bryan Boyle-Valtteri Filppula-Jonathan Drouin
Michael Bournival-Cedric Paquette-Gabriel Dumont

Defensive Pairs

Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison-Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn-Nikita Nesterov

Goaltender

Andrei Vasilvskiy

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Steven Stamkos (knee), Brayden Point (upper body), Ryan Callahan (lower body), Jason Garrison (illness).

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 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. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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