Chicago Blackhawks

Frolik playing with confidence

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Frolik playing with confidence

The Chicago Blackhawks forward broke out on a rush last night and helped set up Dave Bolland's game-winning goal against the Winnipeg Jets. It was another good play by a guy who's gotten better since Day 1 of camp.

And it seems like it's only a matter of time that the numbers are going to start coming.

Michael Frolik has found his niche on the Blackhawks' checking line, a valuable partner to Bryan Bickell and Bolland. Frolik is a solid defensive player; and while the offensive threat has yet to be felt this season, the potential is there.

"Since the first time he's hit the ice (this fall) there's a real committed purpose to having a big year," coach Joel Quenneville said of Frolik. "You can see the pace to his game, he has the puck more and he does a lot of good things. His numbers haven't been reflective of how effective he's been this year."

Frolik's confidence was shaky when he first arrived in February, the acquisition when the Blackhawks traded Jack Skille to the Florida Panthers. Frolik had had two 21-goal seasons in a row but had just nine goals when the trade occurred.

"When I came here it wasn't good. I couldn't score for that long stretch but the guys helped me here," he said. "Coach just said, 'Don't worry about it and just play the game. The points will come.' So I tried not to think about it."

By the postseason it was obvious Frolik was feeling better about his game. He especially excelled once he, Bickell and Bolland reunited after Bolland's injury, and his Game 6 penalty shot helped the Blackhawks force Game 7 against Vancouver.

Frolik rode that wave entering this preseason. A new three-year contract didn't hurt, either.

"It's nice when you have that," Frolik said. "You don't have to worry about next year and how you season's going to be. You're more comfortable. I can set up here and live a while here I hope."

Frolik is in a good place on and off the ice. He's found great chemistry with Bickell and Bolland. He's got himself a new place to live downtown. The confidence is evident in his game, and he can only go up from here.

"Michael's game has been elevated. It trended last year and really hit the high note in the playoffs; and he's taken off at that same level this year," Quenneville said. "We like his commitment to being a consistent player day in and day out."

Where does Patrick Kane rank among Hart Trophy candidates for 2017-18 season?

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USA TODAY

Where does Patrick Kane rank among Hart Trophy candidates for 2017-18 season?

Patrick Kane is among the Hart Trophy candidates for the 2017-18 season, but what are his early odds to reclaim the title?

The 28-year-old Blackhawks star followed up an 106-point campaign in which he became the first American-born player to win the Art Ross and Hart Trophy by finishing tied for second in the NHL with 89 points last season.

But he's facing some tougher odds going into this year.

Bovada revelead Wednesday that Connor McDavid is the front-runner to repeat at 3/2 odds, followed by Sidney Crosby (5/2), Auston Matthews (17/2) and Alex Ovechkin (9/1). Kane ranks fifth at 14/1.

Here's the rest of the list:

  • Vladimir Tarasenko: 15/1
     
  • Evgeni Malkin: 16/1
     
  • Carey Price, John Tavares: 20/1
     
  • Jamie Benn, Steven Stamkos: 25/1
     
  • Erik Karlsson, Nikita Kucherov: 33/1
     
  • Jack Eichel, Ryan Getzlaf, Patrik Laine, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin: 50/1
     
  • Nicklas Backstrom, Brent Burns, Braden Holtby, Phil Kessel, Artemi Panarin, Joe Pavelski: 60/1


A couple solid value picks would be Karlsson at 33/1 and Burns at 60/1, both of whom made strong cases to be in that conversation last year as defensemen.

You'll also notice Panarin as a darkhorse candidate. It will be interesting to see how Kane and Panarin fare without each other in the prime of their careers. Who knows, maybe they'll be sharing the stage together as finalists in Las Vegas next June.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Bryan Bickell on journey with Blackhawks, battling MS

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Bryan Bickell on journey with Blackhawks, battling MS

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Bryan Bickell sits down with Pat Boyle and they discuss the retired player's journey to the NHL, which included being an Ottawa clubhouse assistant where he met future teammate, Marian Hossa.

Bickell admits when he finally knew he was a regular in the NHL, his incredible 2013 postseason performance and the historic 17 seconds in Boston.

Finally, Bryan gets emotional when discussing his MS diagnosis, his shootout goal in his final NHL game, and how his wife Amanda has been at his side throughout his entire hockey career.

Listen to the Hawks Talk Podcast below: