With Bolland out, Frolik is center of attention

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With Bolland out, Frolik is center of attention

Saturday, March 12, 2011Posted: 2:42 PM Updated 5:37 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. Its been a while since Michael Frolik has played center on a consistent basis.

WATCH: Frolik center of attention

Still, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired him from the Florida Panthers in early February because of his versatility among the forward spots. So when Dave Bolland was knocked out against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Frolik was thrown into the center fire.

He passed the test and hell be back there again on Sunday.

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Frolik will center Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa when the Blackhawks play the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon. For Frolik, whos been adjusting to a new team and a new system since the Feb. 9 trade, its just one more switch that hes willing to make.

Its really just a different mindset, he said. Its going to be different but I felt good out there in Tampa. You cant really think. You just have to play. I was with Hossa and Bicks, so thats a great line. Hopefully we can do a great job there.

The Blackhawks knew this was one asset they were getting with Frolik. A solid scorer with two 21-goal seasons prior to this one, Frolik has played predominantly wing over the last few seasons but adjusted well on Wedensday night. He also won five of eight faceoffs, a pleasant surprise for coach Joel Quenneville.

Over time were looking for consistency to see how he handles center. I think he did a nice job with what he was doing out there (against the Lightning), how he positioned himself. With faceoffs, that was a surprise how well he did. Sure every games different. Even today watching him in the faceoff circle, it looks like theres something there. Hopefully that line can take off a little bit.

Frolik and Hossa played a bit together when Frolik first came to the Blackhawks. They have talked about Froliks move to center and are on the same page.

Its just one more adjustment for Frolik. But for someone whos had to do plenty of it already, hes used to it.

Every games different, he said. I got a few practices in (at center). I feel like Im more comfortable right now and its getting better every game.

Good start

The Blackhawks want to get back to what worked for them in their eight-game winning streak. One of the good aspects was their starts, as the Blackhawks usually got in front of their opponents early. That has to return after looking up after the first period of their last two games.

With the slow starts, we cant put a finger on it, Troy Brouwer said. Even through the winning streak, we had a lot of games where we took one period off and games that shouldnt have been close were very close. We have to find a way to make sure were playing the entire game. First- second- or third-period lapses, weve been having them all as of late. We have to straighten out and make sure we find our game the entire game.
Brian Campbell lays on the ice after taking a big hit from Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin when the two teams met on March 14, 2010. Campbell suffered a broken collarbone and Ovechkin was suspended two games. Will there be payback on Sunday? (AP)
Injury updates

Defenseman Brian Campbell, who suffered a leg injury against Florida on Tuesday, will be a game-time decision for Sundays game. It was nearly a year ago when the Blackhawks last played the Capitals and Campbell took a nasty hit from Alexander Ovechkin. Campbell suffered a broken collarbone and Ovechkin was suspended two games.

But Quenneville said paybacks cant be part of the Blackhawks game on Sunday.

You have to be smart, you have to be disciplined and we have to have purpose with our play, he said. Last year was dealt with and we have to control what we can control.

Meanwhile, Bolland (concussion) will be out Sunday after taking an elbow to the head against the Lightning on Wednesday. Coach Joel Quenneville said theyre seeing a little progress with Bolland; hes still listed as day to day.

Defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith, both nursing hand injuries, will play Sunday. Corey Crawford will get the start in goal.

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

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

When the Blackhawks traded to get Brandon Saad back, they also acquired Anton Forsberg, who they believe is ready to be their latest backup goaltender. On Monday they signed him to a two-year deal.

The Blackhawks inked two players on Monday, Forsberg, whose contract runs through the 2018-19 season, and Tomas Jurco, who agreed to a one-year contract extension.

Forsberg joins the Blackhawks having very little NHL experience – he’s played 10 career games at this level, going 1-8-0. But the Blackhawks’ previous two backup goaltenders, Antti Raanta and Scott Darling, hadn’t made an NHL appearance before joining the Blackhawks. Forsberg led the Cleveland Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL-affiliate team, to a Calder Cup title in 2016; during that run he went 9-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

On Friday, when the Blackhawks acquired Saad and Forsberg from Columbus for Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte, general manager Stan Bowman said the team is, “optimistic about Anton’s potential.”

“We like his profile as a goalie,” he said. “He’s a big guy, takes up a lot of net, has that mobility and makes good positional saves as well as athletic saves. A year ago, led his team to the [Calder] Cup championships, so he knows what it’s like to put a team on his back. It was the AHL but he’s had a lot of success there. He’s earned the right to be an NHL goalie.”

Jurco, acquired by the Blackhawks from Detroit in February, played 13 games with them down the regular-season stretch. Bowman said shortly after the trade that Jurco would get a chance here.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” he said. “I think a lot of ways, sometimes guys need different opportunities. It doesn’t work out in every place. A fresh start will be great for Tomas.”

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”