Chicago Blackhawks

Hjalmarsson perfecting a hockey 'art form'

Hjalmarsson perfecting a hockey 'art form'

Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
11:01 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

NASHVILLE Niklas Hjalmarsson got up slowly hobbled to the bench after blocking a shot early against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. A few minutes later the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman was taking a quick whirl around the ice and back in the game.

Defensive partner Brian Campbell called shot blocking an art form, its primary colors being black and blue. But for Hjalmarsson, the bumps, bruises and welts are just an occupational hazard.

I just play like that, ever since I started to play hockey, Hjalmarsson said about sacrificing, even when hes in pain. Im just trying to do as much as I can to try and prevent (goals).

Campbell remembered getting ready to block a shot in Los Angeles last season, only for Hjalmarsson to step in front of him and take the brunt of it.

Hes committed to winning, committing to doing things we need to do to win and he wants others to follow, Campbell said. If someones not doing their job hell be vocal about sacrificing for the good of a team. Not everybody sees the plays and sacrifices he makes but I do. Hopefully some people do notice.

Blocks aside, Hjalmarsson has just been solid in all areas after getting off to a rocky start. He was suspended two games for a hit on Buffalos Jason Pominville in October, and was a minus-10 in the early going. Hjalmarsson said the suspension did not affect his game when he returned.

Still, it took some time. But when Hjalmarsson and Campbell were put together again, the two resumed their chemistry. Coach Joel Quenneville said Hjalmarssons defensive game has been good throughout.

Hes been steadier, Quenneville said. The one thing about his game you always expect is that defensively hes dependable, reliable and positionally strong.

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Did Artemi Panarin throw shade at Patrick Kane?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Did Artemi Panarin throw shade at Patrick Kane?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Tracey Myers discuss the first week of training camp. Alex DeBrincat will skate on Patrick Kane’s line with Nick Schmaltz in Thursday’s preseason game, but is DeBrincat ready for the NHL?

In Columbus, Artemi Panarin talked to the Tribune and Sun-Times about the trade. The Breadman did his best Kane impression saying ‘‘This is business, baby.’’ Panarin also said that in Columbus ‘‘I can play a little bit more with the puck,’’ adding via an interpreter ‘‘Just kind of express myself on the ice a little bit more.’’

Boyle and Myers debate whether this is Panarin’s attempt to throw shade at Kane and the Hawks.

They also discuss which defenseman have turned some heads in the first week of camp, Anton Forsberg’s impressive debut as Corey Crawford’s under study, and who might be “the guy” to bring the young Blackhawks and the core group together.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here:

How a Jonathan Toews injury could have kept Blackhawks from winning 2010 Stanley Cup

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AP

How a Jonathan Toews injury could have kept Blackhawks from winning 2010 Stanley Cup

The Blackhawks made history in 2010 when they snapped a 49-year championship drought by breaking through to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. But their fate could have changed dramatically if it got to a Game 7 for a reason that practically nobody was aware of until now.

The Athletic’s NHL Insider Craig Custance sat down over the summer with some of hockey’s greatest coaches to dissect games of their crowning achievements for his book titled, “Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey's Greatest Coaches,” which was released in September. One of those coaches included was Joel Quenneville, who won his first career Stanley Cup as a head coach with the Blackhawks in 2010.

So the two went back and rewatched Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Philadelphia — the series-clinching game — to get a glimpse inside Quenneville's mind during that game.

Well, inside the book, there was a pretty big revelation regarding their star player. Jonathan Toews had apparently suffered a knee injury late in the game that was serious enough to put his status for a potential Game 7 in doubt.

Here are a few snippets:

"Jonny gets hurt in this game with less than 10 minutes to go in regulation," Quenneville says. "He can't really go. Thank God we scored early [in overtime]. I think it would have been impossible for Jonny to play Game 7."

Wait. What?

This was all news to me.

Same to everyone else.

It happened in the waning minutes of the third period on the play the Flyers evened up the score at 3-3. Toews was shoved into the goaltender after the goal was scored and stayed down on the ice grabbing his knee, then labored back to the bench hunched over.

His teammates didn't know how serious Toews' injury was at the time either:

"It wasn't until midsummer. I remember talking to him, he was still having problems with this knee," Sharp said. "That's when I was like, 'Holy shit, we wouldn't have had Tazer in Game 7.' That just shows you the margin of winning and losing is so small."

In this moment, Hossa has no idea how banged up Toews is. He taps the puck back to Toews as they enter the offensive zone. Flyers forward Darroll Powe bumps him off the puck and the threat is wiped out. The Flyers are headed the other way.

"Yeah, he can't go. Left leg, can't really go," Quenneville says.

It went completely unnoticed, but it could have been a psychological turning point in the series if the Flyers recognized that the Blackhawks' captain was banged up:

Just imagine the lift the Flyers would get if they realized that not only had they tied the game and possibly forced a Game 7, but the Blackhawks' most important player was injured. Quenneville realized this. He was hoping to play Toews just enough to throw the Flyers off the scent.

"He gets that shift, so everybody knows he's fine. Okay, this is Carter. Watch this chance he gets."

Claude Giroux finds a wide-open Jeff Carter, who spins and fires a puck that Niemi somehow saves.

I'm stunned at how close the Blackhawks came to losing this game.

"What a chance he had," Quenneville says.

"That would have made it 4-3 and you're going back without Toews in Game 7."

"Every one, we got lucky."

What a turn of events that would have been, huh?

Knowing the competitor in Toews, he probably would have found a way to play in a possible Game 7, but it certainly makes Chicago appreciate Patrick Kane's game-winning goal in overtime even more knowing its captain may not have been able to play or, at the very least, wouldn't have been close to full strength.

The book goes into full detail of how Quenneville monitored Toews' injury throughout the end of that third period and in overtime, the communication he had with Toews and trainers, and even offers his thoughts on his shifts after the injury like he's coaching in real time again, among many other things.

It's a must-read, and a great in-depth look at how the complexion of the series could have changed on a play nobody saw.