Blackhawks try to rediscover 2010 team

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Blackhawks try to rediscover 2010 team

The Chicago Blackhawks thought they had it figured out. They thought they had found the right supporting cast, the right group of grit and veteran presence to balance the star power that has been in place for several seasons.

But for the second consecutive season the role players just didnt play enough of that role. And it looks like the Blackhawks will be working on that again in the offseason.

The Blackhawks tried to get a little wiser a little deeper and a little tougher when they signed defensemen Sean ODonnell, Steve Montador and Sami Lepisto, forwards Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers and Daniel Carcillo and goaltender Ray Emery entering this season. But whether it was due to injuries or an inadequate fit, it just didnt seem to work.

Its unlikely most of that group will return in 2012-13; and the Blackhawks getting the right ensemble next season is imperative.

Chemistry going forward should be a concern. When I say a concern, a priority, coach Joel Quenneville said Wednesday. When everybody pushingpulling together is a priority, that will make you stronger. I thought we addressed (our needs) last year. I thought they did a good job in that role, but I just think that every year is a different type of mix on our team.

The mix in the Cup season worked, obviously. The role players did their part, buoying the Blackhawks when their stars had rough nights or slumps. But the past two years, thats been missing. When the stars slumped, so did the team see their nine-game winless streak. The same happened last season.

Of the above group, Montador and Carcillo were injured for most of the seasons second half. Both are also signed or extended through the next several years. Emery, who signed a player tryout contract in the summer and then a one-year deal as training camp ended, is also set to return next season.

But the rest are probably gone. Brunette said Wednesday that the Blackhawks were moving in a different direction, and was not holding my breath that theyre going to call. It didnt help that his place on the team was never clearly defined.

The 40-year-old ODonnell was an on againoff again scratch. The same went for Lepisto. Mayers was a solid player all season but was suddenly a healthy scratch after Game 3 of the playoffs. Rumor swirled that Mayers was scratched because he didnt do anything to Raffi Torres, whos vicious hit on Marian Hossa has left the Blackhawks right wing a concussion; but Quenneville said that wasnt a factor at all.

Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik, who have been with the Blackhawks for two-plus seasons now, are also part of that support. And they were there in the postseason, Frolik especially. But both were ineffective in the regular season and talked about how that needs to change in 2012-13.

I had meetings (with the coaches), and they talked about consistency, Bickell said Wednesday. This year was a roller coaster, up and down. Come playoffs, I picked up my game and did what needed to do. What I did in the playoffs, I need to do at the start of the year next year.

All stars need a supporting cast. The Blackhawks thought they found the right one this season. Instead, theyll be searching for the right one for the third consecutive campaign.

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

PITTSBURGH — Ryan Hartman has played on the right side of that line for most of this season. Now back in the lineup, he knows he has to stay on it.

Hartman will play after missing Monday's game as a healthy scratch when the Blackhawks face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Hartman took a few bad penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct, against the Florida Panthers last weekend, so he sat vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. The rookie knows he has to get back to the more disciplined hockey he's played most of the season. 

"I don't change my game. I think you take the message and deliver the message," Hartman said. "Obviously, no one likes to not play, everyone wants to play games and no one likes to sit out games. It's definitely something that I took to heart. I'm just going to go out there and just try to play like I've been playing and get on the scoresheet. Just stay off it for the wrong reasons."

Coach Joel Quenneville said Hartman has to stay on the right side of the line.

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"Know there are boundaries and sometimes you get watched a little bit more," Quenneville said. "The way they're calling the game, the way it's being officiated, be respectful. You still have to be hard to play against and find that limit, how far you can push it but you get a good feel on that early in games."

The Penguins are on a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) and are dealing with some injuries. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that, while Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) is close to returning, he won't play against the Blackhawks.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks lines

Nick Schmaltz-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Tanner Kero-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
John Hayden-Dennis Rasmussen-Tomas Jurco

Defensive pairs 

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries 

Artem Anisimov (left leg)

Penguins lines

Conor-Sheary-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Chris Kunitz-Nick Bonino-Patric Hornqvist
Scott Wilson-Carter Rowney-Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl-Oskar Sundqvist-Josh Archibald

Defensive pairs

Brian Dumoulin-Justin Schultz
Ian Cole-Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce-Mark Streit

Goaltender

Marc-Andre Fleury

Injuries

Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), Trevor Daley (knee), Daniel Sprong (shoulder), Jake Guentzel (concussion), Olli Maatta (hand), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (foot), Ron Hainsey (upper body)

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the latest slump and how much does Artem Anisimov's injury play a role in their struggles?

Konroyd tells us he was surprised by Ryan Hartman's benching in Tampa.

The guys play the game, playoff minutes or press box minutes?  They run through the players who are on the bubble when it comes to postseason play.

They also discuss the Hawks chances of overtaking Washington for the President's trophy.

Plus, Konroyd breaks down possible first round opponents: St Louis, Calgary and Nashville.