Hawk Talk: A Look at the Numbers from Rinkside

Hawk Talk: A Look at the Numbers from Rinkside

Sunday, Apr. 4, 2010

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

.233: Antti Niemi has seven whitewashes in just 30 starts in 2009-10, a .233 percentage. Every NHL goaltender with five or more shutouts has started at least 50 games.

.269: The Blackhawks .269 winning percentage when trailing after two periods is third-best in the NHL, trailing just the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks.

.538: Jonathan Toews is second in NHL history with a .538 shooting percentage in shootouts.

.812: Niemis .812 save percentage on shootouts (26 of 32) is the best in the NHL among goaltenders who have faced 20-plus shots.

.886: Chicagos penalty kill at home is the second-best in the league.

.926: Niemi has a .926 save percentage over his last nine starts.

2: Fridays loss to Chicago marked just second time this season the New Jersey Devils had lost when leading at second intermission (30-1-1).

7: The Blackhawks have won seven consecutive regular season games vs. Calgary (Chicago swept the Flames in 2008-09).

8: Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville (then with the St. Louis Blues in 1999-2000) coached the last team to win the Central Division before the eight-year run of titles by the Detroit Red Wings started.

11: Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has guided his teams into the postseason in 11 of his 12 full seasons as a head coach.

14: Fridays win over the Devils wasnt just the first win for Chicago in New Jersey since Dec. 30, 1997, it was the teams first multiple-win season vs. the Devils in 14 years (since 1995-96).

15: The Blackhawks have won five of their last seven shootouts and nine of 15 overall in 2009-10. Combined with their 6-1 record in OT, Chicagos 15-7 record in extra time is second in the NHL only to the Phoenix Coyotes, who are 17-6.

16: Its been 16 years since Chicago has swept back-to-back season series from a Western Conference opponent. The victim was the Flames, in the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons.

19: Chicago finished the regular season vs. the East at 11-5-2, their best since going 21-9-3 vs. Wales (the old Eastern Conference) 19 years ago, in 1990-91.

30: Niemi has authored seven of Chicagos 11 games of 30-plus saves this season.

53: Niemi has stopped 53 of the past 54 shots hes seen in his past two games.

95: Calgary starting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has stopped 95 of 100 shots hes seen over his past three starts.

203: Chicago has now lost 203 man-games to injury so far this season; last years season total was 179.

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”