SAN JOSE Niklas Hjalmarsson already had the flu and also has an upper-body injury. And he and Steve Montador are out for the next two games with their respective upper-body injuries.
Hjalmarsson was indeed sick with the flu the past two days. But on Friday morning coach Joel Quenneville said the Swedish defenseman will miss the next two games with an undisclosed injury. He and Montador, who was placed on injured reserve today (retroactive to Tuesday) are headed back to Chicago as the Blackhawks prepare to play the San Jose Sharks tonight and the Phoenix Coyotes tomorrow.
Regarding Hjalmarssons illnessinjury status, Quenneville would only say, things changed. Both (Montador and Hjalmarsson) are upper body, day to day.
Sami Lepisto and Dylan Olsen, recalled this morning, will play tonight against the Sharks. Olsen played two games with the Blackhawks in early January. This will be Lepistos first game since Jan. 2 against the Edmonton Oilers.
He can give us some defensive consistency and hes got some offense as well to back it up, Quenneville said. When you have eight D, sometimes have to make some tough decisions. I was telling Sami the other day: Be patient, things can change quickly. And here he is.
Lepisto is understandably eager to get back into the lineup; he said teammates have helped him stay positive.
Theres a good feeling in this locker room, he said. You have to keep yourself positive; but when youre around guys who are having fun it helps a lot. It doesnt help if youre frustrated every day. It just makes your year even longer.
Corey Crawford gets the start for the Blackhawks. Antti Niemi is in for the Sharks.
Michal Kempny was in and out of the Blackhawks lineup last season but he’ll likely get a bigger opportunity this coming season. On Saturday, he was assured of coming back to get that chance.
Kempny and the Blackhawks agreed to a one-year extension, the team announced on Saturday morning.
“Michal’s style of play is an asset to our defense,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He is the type of player who will continue to improve now that he has transitioned to the National Hockey League. We look forward to his continued development on the ice for the Blackhawks.”
Kempny was part of a very crowded blue line last season — he was one of eight defensemen at the start of it — and played 50 regular-season games. He recorded two goals and six assists in those contests but did not play in the Blackhawks’ four postseason contests. With Johnny Oduya and Brian Campbell likely not returning, however, Kempny should get a bigger opportunity this season.
The 26-year-old Kempny also had two goals and an assist in eight games for the Czech Republic team at the 2017 World Championship.
With exactly a month to go until Chicago hosts the 2017 NHL Draft for the first time ever, the Blackhawks and league announced Wednesday their plans for Fan Fest held outside the United Center on June 23 and 24.
A handful of Blackhawks players and alumni will be in attendance and made available for photo opportunities, as will the Stanley Cup. Fans will also be able to explore the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, "a 53-foot museum truck with an innovative interior featuring more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, original video content, one-of-a-kind historical memorabilia, unique photo moments and a social media wall," according to the press release.
A full list of activities, special guest appearances and schedule will be posted at a later date.
Friday's events will run from 3 to 9 p.m. while Saturday's festivites will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot C, north of the United Center.
Additional passes for the weekend will be made available to the public starting June 9. For more information, visit chicagoblackhawks.com/fanfest.