Hawks fall in return to United Center

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Hawks fall in return to United Center

The Blackhawks werent throwing out the tired excuse on Tuesday night, and they werent willing to use it when they were asked about it.

Nevertheless, they sure looked it.

Four different Coyotes scored, including Shane Doan with the game-winner, as the Blackhawks dropped a 4-1 decision to Phoenix at the United Center on Tuesday night.

The Blackhawks, who wrapped up their 13-day road trip on Saturday night, were looking to bring their road game at least the California part of it -- home. Instead they looked sluggish against a Coyotes team that improved to 7-3-1 on the road this season.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Monday that a game like Tuesdays was potentially dangerous: jet lag, tired legs and trying to get too cute at home could be culprits against a solid road team like Phoenix. And it looked like one or a few of those were at play, as the Blackhawks showed little fire or push-back against the Coyotes.

There were a couple of shifts that there was some (energy) but it wasnt enough for me, Quenneville said. We were really weak in the puck area. They had better, quicker sticks and quicker feet. We didnt win any puck battles.

Duncan Keith said I dont know if it was lack of energy. We were skating out there, we just didnt accomplish anything. Wed get the puck out of our zone and it seemed like it was rammed right back into it. It seemed like they were on top of us every time. I dont know if thats energy or just being smart with the puck.

And they didnt do much with the puck when they did possess it. The Blackhawks were once again looking for the perfect scoring opportunity instead of just firing it at Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, who stopped 24 of 25 for his 12th victory this season.

Only Patrick Sharps power-play goal with 42.9 seconds got past Smith. Otherwise, it was just a lifeless night for the Blackhawks.

You sure fatigue didnt creep in just a little bit?

Maybe, but its still not an excuse, especially at this level and at home, Patrick Kane said. There should be enough energy and motivation to play in front of our own crowd and adrenaline to build off that, so thats really not an excuse for us.

Corey Crawford allowed all four goals and was pulled after Whitneys score 5:02 into the third period. Damon Langkow, Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney also scored for the Coyotes, who will be back here on Monday night.

The Blackhawks wanted to continue their roll started in the Los Angeles area. Instead they came out decent and went to flat pretty quick. Theyll get some rest now before hosting the New York Islanders on Friday. By then, fatigue definitely wont be a potential excuse.

We know that scoring first was important, Quenneville said. We had a decent start. They played that perfect checking game and it frustrated us. It wasnt pretty.

Carbomb radio

Forward Daniel Carcillo will host a new show called The Bomb Shelter, debuting on Dec. 2 at 11 p.m. The hour-long program will focus on Carcillos love of all types of music, as well as personal anecdotes, special guests and more. Future shows will air following weekend home games on dates yet to be announced.

Briefly

Niklas Hjalmarsson was a minus-3 for the Blackhawks on Tuesday night.

Sami Lepisto, John Scott and Ben Smith were the Blackhawks healthy scratches.

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.”