Hawk Talk: How many room keys would you like?

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Hawk Talk: How many room keys would you like?

Thursday, May 20, 2010
6:35 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Just when the Blackhawks thought they were home, theyre back in a hotel.

Ask any Hawks fan if they like the idea of Joel Quenneville finding them some rooms downtown, and theyll probably flash a thumbs-up, based on their NHL playoff record-tying seven-game road win streak, compared to their 3-3 record this post-season after the Greatest Anthem in Sports. Coach Qs letting them sleep in their own beds (theyre only being diverted between Friday mornings skate and their return to the United Center for the game a few hours later), and there didnt seem to be any grumbling about the idea in the locker room following Thursdays practice. So fire up the Mario Kart for a few hours just be careful with the pregame hotel room wrestling matches, boys. And Brian Campbell said when I (jokingly) asked after Tuesdays win in San Jose about the prospect of hotel time at home, that theyve run out of movies to watch (even chick flicks). So if the boys are gonna get together and pop in a pregame DVD, whats their best bet? Keep it clean. Slapshot? Jaws? Hes Just Not That Into You?

Maybe the best video of all is the way they were ALL over the ice Tuesday night in San Jose. If they re-enact their commitment to checking on both ends, which created longer stretches of puck possession, and fewer shots Antti Niemi had to face, theyll win. Lets see how Dr. Quennevilles formula works out for home success. The Sharks have lost two straight for the first time in these playoffs, but theres a reason they won the West in the regular season. They vow to get mad, play better and, as Dan Boyle says, make a figurative collective gesture with one of their fingers to the naysayers to prove them wrong. But their belief level of whether they can beat the Hawks might be getting tested, if it hasnt been already. Especially beating them four out of the next five. Theyve lost five of six against the Blackhawks this season, including all four in their Tank. The only time they defeated them this season was when the Hawks outshot them 47-14 at the United Center. Included were a couple of bothersome defeats that could get in a teams head, too like blowing a 3-1 second period lead at the United Center, getting blown-out 7-2 at home (trailing 7-0 at one point), and falling in overtime at home after rallying from a 3-0 deficit. Then theres all the falling short of expectations baggage theyve carried for awhile now.

Both teams say theyre treating Game 3 as a must win. Its more like must or bust for San Jose. Unless theyre the Flyers, and the Hawks are the Bruins.

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

Ryan Hartman gets another shot at center when Blackhawks take on Stars

Ryan Hartman gets another shot at center when Blackhawks take on Stars

Ryan Hartman isn't a total stranger to center.

He played more of it in his Plymouth Whalers (OHL) days but also got some center shifts in with the Rockford IceHogs. That's where he'd also get some faceoffs, especially if another center had, or was coming off of, a wrist injury.

His return there Tuesday night wasn't so shabby, either, as he moved to the second-line center spot when the Blackhawks were looking for a boost. So it's no surprise that he'll be back there again on Thursday night when the Blackhawks play hosts to the Dallas Stars.

Hartman admits he was a little surprised when he was put in that spot in the Blackhawks' overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. But with this team you have to expect anything, and Hartman was happy to join Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane.

"You never know at a certain time of the game what's going to happen. But it went well," Hartman said. "Playing with those two guys is fun, and they're two special players. They make it easy on you, keeping the puck and making plays. It's exciting to play with those two guys."

Hartman did get some post-skate faceoff work in on Thursday. He said he'll do some video work as well.

"They put up video before games of tendencies of every center. I've just gotta watch that close before tonight's game so I know what some of their habits are and what centers I'll be lined up against," he said.

Hartman playing second-line center gives the Blackhawks another option in Artem Anisimov's injury absence. Coach Joel Quenneville said, depending on how things go, that Hartman could be considered to center the third or fourth line in the future.

"I liked him there, and the way he plays with those two guys, you can have a net presence and disruption around the net and a lot of action with those guys in that area. He has a quick stick and maybe there's some production there and it gives us some options of using him in the middle in other spots as well going forward," Quenneville said. "For a period there I thought he did a real nice job. We'll see how it works out. It looked all right today in practice. It's one more option, which we like."

[BLACKHAWKS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

CSN has complete coverage of Thursday night's game between the Blackhawks and Stars, starting with Blackhawks Pregame Live at 7 p.m., followed by puck drop from the United Center at 7:30 p.m. You can catch all the action on CSN or streaming live here on CSNChicago.com or on the NBC Sports app.

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

John Hayden, Jonathan Toews, Richard Panik
​Artemi Panarin, Ryan Hartman, Patrick Kane
Nick Schmaltz, Marcus Kruger, Marian Hossa
Dennis Rasmussen, Tanner Kero, Jordin Tootoo

​Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell and Trevor van Riemsdyk

​Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries/illness: Artem Anisimov (left leg)

Dallas Stars

Forward lines

Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky
​Remi Elie, Tyler Seguin, Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore, Radek Faksa, Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie, Adam Cracknell, Jiri Hudler

​Defensive pairs

Esa Lindell and John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis and Greg Pateryn
​Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak

​Goaltender

Kari Lehtonen

Injuries/illness: Mattias Janmark (knee), Antoine Roussel (hand), Jason Spezza (back)

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks go for season sweep vs. Stars tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks go for season sweep vs. Stars tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Patrick Sharp returns to Chicago.

For the first time this season, Sharp will lace up the skates in the building and city he spent 10 seasons and won three Stanley Cups. He missed the first three meetings of the year due to a concussion, but played in the fourth on Feb. 4 that turned out to be a 5-3 loss for Dallas. The former Blackhawks winger revealed last month that he's been dealing with an undisclosed injury for quite a while that has worsened over time, and will eventually need season-ending surgery, which will likely come when the Stars are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

2. Johnny Oduya faces former team.

Sharp won't be the only one facing his former club tonight. Oduya will face off against the Stars for the first time since being re-acquired by the Blackhawks on Feb. 28 from Dallas, where he spent the last year and a half after signing a two-year contract in the summer of 2015. He was a key part of the team's blue line that won their first division title since 2005-06 last year.

3. Jamie Benn scoring drought.

After scoring 12 goals in his previous 16 games, including three in two games to start March, Benn hasn't scored in six straight, his second-longest drought of the season; his first stretched to nine games from Oct. 20-Nov. 10. It's been a tough season in Dallas, and Benn only recently started looking like the player that finished last season ranked third with 41 goals and second with 89 points. But he's still one of the best players in the league, so don't think a down year makes him any less dangerous on the ice.  

4. Ryan Hartman with a hot stick.

Hartman had been quiet for a little bit, failing to find the back of the net in nine consecutive games. He's been lights out in the last three, where he registered a season-high six shots on goal and scored the game-winning overtime goal in Toronto, and scored two more in Tuesday's 5-4 overtime loss to Vancouver. He's now up to 18 goals on the season, which ranks fifth among all rookies, and all but one have come at even strength. Two more would put him at 20 goals, and would make him the seventh Blackhawks player this season to reach that total.

5. Another successful night coming for the power play?

The Blackhawks took advantage of their six power-play opportunities on Tuesday against Vancouver by cashing in on two of those. They were only 1-for-13 (7.7 percent) in their previous seven games. They're welcoming a Stars team that ranks dead last in the penalty kill department with a 74.0 percentage, and the Blackhawks will look to build off last game's success and keep it rolling.

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