Hawk Talk: Divergent Paths to a Collision Course

Hawk Talk: Divergent Paths to a Collision Course

Monday, May 24, 2010
10:45 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Blackhawks versus Flyers.

The other Keystone State team as a Finals foe, after Pittsburgh swept them last time.

Back on March 13th, Cristobal Huet played one of his better games as the goalie competition was still up for grabs, leading 2-1 with just over two minutes left at the Wachovia Center. But a breakaway goal tied it, and Chris Pronger capped a rush for the winner with just 2.1 seconds left. in the only meeting this season. One of Pronger's main jobs now will be trying to quiet down Dustin Byfuglien. 6'4, 260 against 6'6, 220 with an extremely nasty streak. This is where the Flyers expected him to take them when they acquired him last off-season. He won a Norris Trophy in one of his nine seasons in St. Louis, playing under Joel Quenneville. These Flyers have two more regular D-Men 6'3 and another 6'5.

You want questions in the crease? They also have a goalie named Michael Leighton. In, out, waived by Carolina, on to Philly, hurt, back in again, and the owner of three shutouts in the East Final versus Montreal. He was a sixth round pick of the Hawks in 1999, went 8-21-10 for them when he got his first Big Chance in '02-'03 and '03-'04. Duncan Keith was a minor league teammate at Norfolk. His backup: Brian Boucher: 1-10-3 with the Hawks three years ago. Patrick Sharp and Ben Eager will face their most recent ex-teams before being traded to the Hawks.

Keith, Seabrook, Pronger, Toews, Richards. Team Canada.

Philly's gotten healthier after showing the heart of Rocky by stunning Boston in coming back from the brink, down three games to none, in round two. They made the playoffs on the final day of the regular season - beating the Rangers in a shootout, then stunning heavily-favored New Jersey in the opening round.

They're getting strong secondary scoring now. Sound familiar? They've got guys for United Center fans to hate: Carcillo, Hartnell, Laperriere.

They fired their coach in December when they were above .500, then hired a guy who won a Cup in Carolina (with Andrew Ladd), and they promptly started 2-8 under Peter Laviolette.

Their captain eagerly grabs the Prince of Wales Trophy Monday night. Our captain acted as if the Campbell Trophy would give him a life-threatening illness if he touched it Sunday afternoon.

They're the latest team to participate in the Winter Classic and make the Stanley Cup Finals - where they've lost in their last five attempts. Just like the Blackhawks. At least their last Cup-hoisting was a mere 35 years ago. Not 49.

How soon can Saturday get here?

Blackhawks sign goaltender Jeff Glass to two-year deal

Blackhawks sign goaltender Jeff Glass to two-year deal

The Blackhawks added organizational depth to their goaltending position by inking Jeff Glass to a two-year deal that runs through the 2017-18 season, the team announced Thursday. His deal carries a $612,500 cap hit, according to CapFriendly.com.

Glass, 31, signed a contract with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League in January, and played well enough to earn himself a deal at the professional level.

He owns a 5-4-1 record with a 2.38 goals against average, .917 save percentage and two shutouts in 10 games since joining the IceHogs, and has earned victories in four of his last five games.

A third round selection by Ottawa in 2004, Glass has yet to make his National Hockey League debut, but he's making strides in the right direction by jumping Mac Carruth on Rockford's depth chart and rotating with Lars Johansson.

The move provides insurance for a Blackhawks team that is relatively thin at the goaltending position outside of Corey Crawford and Scott Darling, the latter of whom will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. 

And given the uncertainty of Darling's status heading into the summer, Glass could compete for the backup job next year. He also fills the expansion draft requirements if Chicago chooses to go that direction, although it's unlikely he'll be claimed by Las Vegas.

Blackhawks look to keep rolling vs. Coyotes

Blackhawks look to keep rolling vs. Coyotes

The last time the Blackhawks faced the Arizona Coyotes was the first game the current top line of Nick Schmaltz, Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik were thrown together.

Yeah, the combination's worked out well. So has the Blackhawks' game in general, as they've won seven of eight including that Feb. 2 game. Now the Blackhawks will try to keep the momentum rolling with their lines and their game when they host the Coyotes Thursday night at the United Center.

The Blackhawks' current run of success started in the desert and part of that has been finding more consistent lines. Everything else has gradually improved off of that, from goal scoring to puck possession.

"I think it's puck possession, puck control, pace to the game," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we were very inconsistent in that early and we were defending way more than we were accustomed to. You're vulnerable for penalties, you're vulnerable for quality scoring chances against and not generating enough. I think that's the progression in our game now, it seems like all four lines are having the puck and having some zone time and having some rush chances, zone chances and it seems like every line's contributing there, and that's the big difference."

[RELATED: By the bye - Blackhawks keep rolling following break]

The Blackhawks' top line didn't have immediate chemistry but Quenneville kept them together and let them work on it. But as Toews said, it was about the group keeping the all-around game going, points or no points.

"Sometimes you just gotta work until things start clicking," Toews said. "Everyone seems to start paying attention when you start scoring goals, regardless of [the fact you're] doing things right. It's nice that we're scoring but we have to stick with what's making us a successful line at both ends of the rink right now."

Corey Crawford will start vs. the Coyotes. Niklas Hjalmarsson did not skate this morning but is expected to play. Quenneville said Michal Rozsival could draw into the lineup.

Broadcast information

Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com

Blackhawks lines

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

Defensive pairs

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

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries 

None

Coyotes lines (via Arizona Republic)

Tobias Rieder-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata
Brendan Perlini-Christian Dvorak-Shane Doan
Max Domi -Alex Burmistrov-Ryan White
Jamie McGinn-Jordan Martinook-Josh Jooris

Defensive pairs

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Luke Schenn
Alex Goligoski-Anthony DeAngelo
Jakob Chychrun-Connor Murphy

Goaltender

Mike Smith

Injuries

Lawson Crouse (lower body), Brad Richardson (tibia)