Hawks miss out on Parise, Suter but Bowman still confident

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Hawks miss out on Parise, Suter but Bowman still confident

The Chicago Blackhawks failed to land coveted forward Zach Parise on Wednesday, but general manager Stan Bowman is confident the Blackhawks will get what they need either through free agency, or through trades.

Parise was pursued by the Blackhawks during this early free-agency period but he went home, literally, signing a 13-year, 98-million deal with the Minnesota Wild. It was a disappointing pill to swallow for the Blackhawks; but Parises decision and that of Ryan Suter, who also signed with the Wild and whom also the Blackhawks were interested in early -- didn't totally surprise Bowman.

"We made a very appealing offer to them, but they didn't grow up in Chicago," Bowman said on a conference call on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks were one of the finalists for Parise, and Bowman said they made a "very impressive offer" for the Devils forward.

"Ultimately it came down to a family decision. Those are things that are sometimes hockey decisions, sometimes family decisions, and you respect that," Bowman said. "Players like to play in their hometowns and there are family considerations with the wife. When those are the things that are the tipping point, you have to wish them well and move on to the next matter at hand. We made an impressive case. That's the feedback we got from the agent."

The Blackhawks also went after veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur, who chose to re-sign with the Devils. But Bowman said approaching Brodeur didn't mean his confidence in Corey Crawford and Ray Emery wavered.

"He's the winningest goalie in the game; youd foolish not to talk with him. But beyond that, I don't think it says anything about (lack of confidence)," Bowman said. "I've said this for a long time: anytime you can talk to a player like that, it doesnt really disparage players. You wouldnt be doing your job if you didnt talk to them."

So what's next?

Matt Carle is one of the bigger free agents remaining. Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash have been mentioned in various trades. Considering the deals handed out for defensemen thus far, Carle could be cashing in on a massive payday. The Blackhawks may not want to get caught up in that.

Bowman said hell continue to look at free agency and trade possibilities to improve the Blackhawks, who are coming off two first-round exits. His objective, however, is not necessarily about making a splash.

Our (objective) is to win hockey games, he said. Its to put a team on the ice to give us the best chance to win the Cup next year. Its not like we have seven holes to fill. Last years team had 101 points and there was a lot more to give. There are ways to be better with that same group. Think there was some growth from within that were going to do, and well look at adding players from the outside.

Trades wont be ruled out, either.

A source said that the Blackhawks were looking at Jay Bouwmeester as the calendar turned to July. The Calgary Flames have nine defensemen including Bouwmeester, who has two years remaining on his current contract (at a 6.68 million cap hit per season).

The Blackhawks didnt land Parise. Neither did the other teams who were in hot pursuit of them. Bowman will continue to look at the options. There does need to be changes off last years team, no doubt. But Bowman wont break the bank, and the Blackhawks dont need a complete overhaul to get where they need to be.

Im not saying were simply going to sit and stand still where were at. Theres always the possibility of making acquisitions, trades, he said. We cant forget that in the season last year, we didnt have ending we wanted. But weve got some good pieces in Chicago, and were fortunate for that.

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Blackhawks knew their meeting against the Minnesota Wild two weeks ago was a critical contest. This one is right up there, too.

The Blackhawks are trying to keep pace with the front-running Wild, who are seven points ahead of them entering tonight's game.

"There's certainly always something to play for," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks are 10 points ahead of third-place St. Louis. "We want to keep getting better and we're starting to improve over this part of the season. But the point of importance of today's game and keeping it close is important for us, so we'll approach it that way. We were going into the break a week ago, and I'm sure it's an important game for them but it's an extremely important game for us."

Meanwhile the Wild will be trying to do tonight what the Blackhawks did on Feb. 11: go into their bye on a high note. The Wild haven't had many hiccups lately, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Devan Dubnyk will get the start as the Wild look to keep extending their lead.

"It's one of those games that's a great challenge for your group," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You're playing a team that's still won three Stanley Cups in the last seven years and they've been in every battle you can imagine. That team gets up for every important game, and I think they'll think this is an important game. It's just about being an athlete. It's one of those things, you love to play in these situations."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Tuesday marks the Wild's 59th game of the season; they had caught up to Chicago during the Blackhawks' bye week, yet will go into their break with a game in hand. Still, the Wild are ready for the respite.

"We're not complaining about it," Charlie Coyle said. "It's a little different, yeah, but in the long run it's going to help us. Just get this rest period, rest the legs, the body, [rest] mentally, come back and get ready for the grind. It's going to be crucial for us and we'll try to take advantage of it."

Matt Dumba (knee) could return to the Wild's lineup tonight but Boudreau wouldn't say for sure.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com and NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks

Forward lines
Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender
Corey Crawford

Injuries/illnesses: None

Minnesota Wild

Forward lines
Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Erik Haula-Jason Pominville
Chris Stewart-Tyler Graovac-Jordan Schroeder

Defensive Pairs
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Gustav Olofsson-Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella-Matt Dumba

Goaltender
Devan Dubnyk

Injuries/illnesses: None

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 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. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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