Hawks continue winning ways despite injuries

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Hawks continue winning ways despite injuries

Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010
8:26 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks arent going to worry much about style points. They dont need fancy and they dont need dazzling right now. They just need points.

So taking that team mentality in against a Los Angeles Kings squad that wasnt allowing much, the Blackhawks got just enough.

Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Fernando Pisani scored and Corey Crawford stopped 26-of-28 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Kings 3-2 at the United Center on Sunday night. It was their second consecutive victory and a gritty one, as the Blackhawks were once again without three forwards -- coach Joel Quenneville was hopeful that Marian Hossa and Viktor Stalberg could play Wednesday vs. Nashville.

While Sundays victory may have not as been as snazzy as their triumph over Detroit on Friday, it was just as effective.

Well take it, Quenneville said. This was a tough game tonight. Two of their last three games on the road (the Kings) won by five, so we knew we had a dangerous opponent that was playing well. We did what we had to do.

The Blackhawks clogged lanes and made it harder for Kings netminder Jonathan Quick to see shots. Troy Brouwer epitomized that, getting around Quick on both Toews and Keiths goals.

Its something we preach a lot; we try to emphasize going to the net. If the goalie sees the puck were not going to score, Quenneville said. Brouw was good. I thought that line had a big night as well. You get rewarded when you go to the net and it can lead to quality goals. It doesnt have to be pretty.

Toews laser gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. Kyle Clifford scored early in the second period to tie it for the Kings, but Keith answered just 25 seconds later to put the Blackhawks up 2-1 and stall Los Angeles momentum.

Anytime you can get a goal right back like that its big for your team, said Toews, who also assisted on Keiths goal. I think one way or another, were going to find a way tonight, whether we had a lead early on or not. We knew the situation we were in.

Pisanis goal proved to be the game-winner. Patrick Sharp had two assists. Crawford came up big on several Kings shots en route to his second consecutive victory. The Blackhawks helped him out, too, blocking 22 shots Brent Seabrook had a team-high five blocks.

When you limit their quality chances, its going to be better for him and for all of us, said Keith, who played just over 23 minutes and was a plus-2. He did a good job tonight again.

No, it wasnt dazzling. But be it pretty or the hard-hat approach, the Blackhawks dont care how they get two points, as long as they get them.

Obviously thats the way we expect to play, and the way we know we can play every single night, Toews said. Going into every game now, we just have to remind ourselves that its much more enjoyable when everyone plays the way we did tonight, and when everyones prepared the way we have as a team the last couple games. Were going to have way more fun, especially in our own building.

Briefly

Jassen Cullimore cleared waivers Saturday afternoon and played for the Blackhawks on Sunday night. Quenneville said he talked briefly to the veteran Cullimore about the decision. When youre in the middle of that, its something thats tough to comment on. Afterward, seeing different decisions made, its more a business decision than hockey decision. You dont want to read too much into it and look ahead. Hes good about it. Hes a good pro. I liked his game the other night in that situation.

While Hossa and Stalberg skated on Sunday morning, Patrick Kane (left ankle) did not. Quenneville said the last couple times (Kane) was on the ice, he didnt get through practice. Well give him a little time here.

The Blackhawks had 35 hits against the Kings; Brouwer was credited with a team-high seven, followed by Seabrook with five.

Bryan Bickell had an assist on Sunday, giving him points in six of his last seven games (4 goals, 3 assists).

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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.”