Hawk Talk: Hossa looks on target for return

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Hawk Talk: Hossa looks on target for return

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
5:04 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Six days after leaving early in the second period against the Kings, Marian Hossa was back on the ice with his teammates at Tuesday's practice. Wearing a white (non-contact) jersey, Hossa went through most drills while being conservative with his shots, and was careful afterwards not to reveal too much about his upper-body injury, while hoping to return on or around the original two-week estimate.

"Definitely I feel the progress. I'm getting there - probably halfway and just...big progress since the injury the last five days. Skating went well. Obviously, five days during the season's a long time without the ice. You can feel it even when I was running and biking. It's still different than skating."

Hossa got off to a torrid start, with seven goals and 11 points the first seven games. He confirmed the injury happened out of an awkward fall following a collision with the Kings' Jarret Stoll, but is glad his sideline time won't be anywhere close to what it was a year ago, when he missed the first 22 games following shoulder surgery.

"I went through this last year. The good thing was the MRI showed lots of good stuff so I don't have to worry about something. Right now I'm happy with how it's going and how it's progressing."

The Blackhawks feel they're progressing as a team, even though "happy" might not be their, or some fans', adjective of choice. Puck possession has gotten better the last two games, when they've outshot the Wild and Rangers (albeit opponents with some of their own top offensive guns sidelined). They're also just one game behind their pace through 14 games a year ago. They've scored one more goal, but allowed seven more in that time. They'd be much better right now if they could start and finish periods better defensively, and do a better job locking down after scoring themselves. My (very) unscientific research shows they've permitted nine goals in the first 2:43 of periods, allowed another nine thus far over the final 3:05 of periods, and have given up seven within 2:26 of scoring themselves. Each applied to the Rangers' goals in Monday's 3-2 loss in New York.

"It's something we talked about," said Patrick Kane, whose equalizer in the third period was negated by the eventual game-winner just 26 seconds later. "Taking advantage of those shifts we're out there. It's still a learning process, the 14th, 15th game. We still gotta tighten things up. Better now than later in the season."

"We talked as a group about taking pride and wanting to be out there in those big shifts following goals in last minutes of periods," Head Coach Joel Quenneville added. "You get rewarded by getting the job done going forward off of that. We're trying to make sure when you're out there, take advantage of it and get the job done."

Troy Brouwer was a bit more descriptive.

"Whenever you score a goal, the team gets up and gets momentum. If a team gets on ya right away and is able to score or get a good shift on you it kills your momentum. We made ourselves vulnerable a couple times last game and we either took a penalty or got scored on the very next shift. It just kills your team. It's tough to come back from and to establish momentum again."

Brouwer and company will try to exhibit that killer instinct against a New Jersey team that's vulnerable Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. "Chevy Blackhawks Pregame Live" on Comcast SportsNet). The Devils are on the last stop of a six-game road trip that took them to California, then Vancouver Monday night. Since an opening 4-3 overtime win, they've scored just 17 goals the last 12 games, and own an NHL-worst 3-9-1 record.

Other Ice Shavings: Dave Bolland did not join Hossa on the ice, and there was no further word on the likelihood of his return from the injury list when he's eligible Saturday in Atlanta. Fernando Pisani did not practice, but Quenneville says he's good-to-go Wednesday. Forwards Ben Smith and Ryan Potulny were sent back to Rockford of the AHL after three and two games, respectively, with the Hawks. Both went scoreless. The moves appear to open the way for Winger Bryan Bickell to return against the Devils after being a healthy scratch the last two games.
Campbell's Cards for Kids: Brian Campbell's back, and so is his "Texas Hold Em" tournament at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, benefitting his charitable foundation, "Campbell for Kids." It's January 18, 2011, with proceeds going to the Chicagoland Chapter of Autism Speaks, and Chicago's Beard School, serving 3- to 9-year-olds who have severe autism andor emotional disorders. Last year's event raised 100,000 in net proceeds, and like the inaugural event last winter, Campbell's teammates, Blackhawks alumni, and other athletes and celebrities will join him. Admission is 150, which includes drinks, dining, up-close tournament viewing, live casino gaming, and a silent auction. The Poker Tournament "buy-in" is an additional 175, and any player who eliminates any of the participating Blackhawks will get the jersey off that player's back. For more information about the event and purchasing tickets, visit www.campbellforkids.org.

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

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.

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.