Hawk Talk: Fighting through Flu-bruary


Hawk Talk: Fighting through Flu-bruary

Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011Posted: 4:20 PM

By: Chris Boden

Jake Dowells done with his bout with the flu, and Joel Quennevilles optimistic the same can be said of Patrick Kane in time for Wednesdays opener of a crucial three-game homestand.

Kane missed a second straight day of practice with apparently the same bug thats bitten Corey Crawford, Fernando Pisani and Marian Hossa over the past couple of months. It comes as Kane was starting to heat up, with four goals and seven points over the previous four games (including being held off the scoresheet Saturday night against the Coyotes).

With Kane out, Viktor Stalberg moved up in practice Tuesday to share line time with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. While Toews, Kane and Sharp have provided the expected production since Quenneville put them together in Edmonton, the other lines, five-on-five, have sputtered. Thats why he has high hopes for the trio of Dave Bolland, Hossa and Michael Frolik. Theres potential for them to jump-start each other offensively, with Bolland being the most productive of the three lately, despite enduring a three-game point drought sandwiched between 10 over the previous nine games and a pair of power play assists Saturday.

We want to get the best from everybody, Quenneville said after Tuesdays practice. Fro, Bolly, Hoss. All three have the potential to make a real nice line for us. We need that group to be effective and hopefully they can all max-out for us.

Frolik seems really skilled and sees the ice well, according to Hossa. Hopefully, we can get things going. We need it, especially five-on-five goals.

A familiarity between Frolik and Bolland comes from the YoungStars Game at the 2009 All-Star Weekend in Montreal, when they opposed each other, aside from the two meetings between the Hawks and Florida Panthers some nine months later in Helsinki. Froliks now in a 25-game goal drought, while Hossas lit it up just four times in his last 24 games. Each desperately needs a spark from which their team would greatly benefit.

Hes an incredible player and hes done so many things here, Frolik says of his fellow eastern European. Its so much of an experience to play with him, especially for me to play on the same line.

Seven of the next eight games are against Western Conference teams in the same playoff dogfight. After an Edmonton paper last week hinted the defending champs have spent all season talking the talk but not walking the walk, the right things continue to be said in the locker room now that theyre back home, looking to improve on a 16-13 record. It starts with the team that handed them that 13th loss in their last home game three weeks ago, the Minnesota Wild.

Brent Seabrook: Yknow its one of those games thats a must-win. Weve got to come out, have a really good start to that game, then put in a full 60 minutes.

Hossa: The race is tight and we can climb up, but we need, from these games, two points. Thats the only way were going to climb up and it starts tomorrow.

Bryan Bickell: Weve gotta come after em hard and quick. We need the two points to at least get going on this homestand.

Quenneville: A lot of teams have had their runs and put us in a spot now where we have to do something about it. Were looking for our own run ourselves to put us in a spot we really want to be.
Other Stuff

Besides Kane, the only practice absentees were Fernando Pisani and Ryan Johnson. Theres been no update on their progress from injuries sustained Friday in Dallas.

Corey Crawford makes his second straight start in net. Four even-strength shots got past him versus the Wild in the final game before the All-Star Break.

Frolik had never been to Chicago before coming back with the team from Phoenix, so Wednesday will be his first United Center experience.

They say its an incredible atmosphere and a great hockey town, so I cant wait for that, he said.

The Wild have won 9 of their previous 11 heading into Tuesday nights home game against league-leading Vancouver. Both losses during the run have been by one goal. John Madden scored the deciding goal (one in the ninth round of a shootout) in back-to-back wins last week.

Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

The Blackhawks hit the road on Thursday, and they did so in style.

In support of the Cubs participating in the World Series for the first time since 1945, each member of the Blackhawks sported a Cubs jersey and World Series hat as they hopped onto the plane and traveled to New Jersey.

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

It may not have been as whacky as Joe Maddon's themed road trips, but it's still a perfect excuse for breaking the dress code just this once.

Check out the photos below:

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

When coach Joel Quenneville has put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together it’s usually been during the postseason.

It’s rare when it happens in the regular season and when it does, it seems like an in-case-of-emergency move. But in this case, it may be more of a get-the-captain’s-production-going move.

The Blackhawks made a few more line changes on Thursday, including combining Toews and Kane, as they prepared for Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Marian Hossa moved to right wing on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. Marcus Kruger and Nick Schmaltz flip-flopped as third- and fourth-line centers. Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman were the third-line wings while Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo were on the fourth line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the line changes, including Kane’s move to the first line, were because the Blackhawks continue to look for balance. To a point, that’s true; the Blackhawks still haven’t come close to getting that four-line rotation with which they’ve found so much success. But considering how successful the Toews and Kane combination has been for each, you’d have to think it’s to help bolster Toews’ point totals. Toews has just two assists through the first seven games.

“Right now I think Jonny, his production isn’t where you look at his play – we still always like the way he plays, he’s so useful in so any different ways,” Quenneville said. “I think maybe we get more balance on both lines. We’ve been trying a number of different looks in our top two groups there. over seven games we still need to be better in a lot of ways. hopefully we can find it.”

Still, if you can get your top players producing points, it’s worth a try. And Kane and Toews, regardless of how long they’ve been apart, usually click immediately upon reuniting.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

“Yeah, I guess change can be good in this sense. We can probably produce a little bit more offense and have the puck a little bit more throughout the game,” Kane said. “I’ve played with Jonny a bunch before. Obviously, not as much lately. But I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a fun way to play hockey. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the game, and probably in my mind, the easiest player to play with. It’ll be fun to get back out there with him and try to create something, try to produce and have some fun with it.”

As for that usual second line of Panarin, Anisimov and Kane, remember: as we’ve seen before, it can be put together again fast.

“They get a lot of shifts and a lot of looks. It’s not like we’re too far away from going back to it at any time. It’s always close and available,” Quenneville said. “Maybe we get more balance and a little more scoring across the board.”


- Defenseman Gustav Forsling (upper body) did not skate on Thursday and will not travel to New Jersey. Quenneville is still hoping Forsling can play on Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

- Forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) continues to improve. Quenneville said Desjardins could be skating in the next day or so.

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Devils.