Hjalmarsson's 'special game'; Kane's relic

Hjalmarsson's 'special game'; Kane's relic

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Posted: 12:20 a.m.

By Tracey Myers

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is used to playing in pain. Its just the price you pay for being a shot blocker.

Hes done what hes had to during his latest injury, a hand issue that has him taking maintenance days when he can and playing through it when necessary. But if he was hurting Monday night against the San Jose Sharks, he wasnt playing like it.

Hjalmarsson played just under 19 minutes, blocked three more shots and scored his third goal of the season in the Blackhawks 6-3 victory over San Jose. Hjalmarsson has logged lower minutes in recent games as he works through a hand injury. But on Monday, he had what coach Joel Quenneville called a special game.

Thats as hard as Ive seen him shoot the puck, Quenneville said. He had a great shot (on his goal) and another in the third period as well. He keeps trending and he really enhances his overall contribution from the defensive perspective.

Could the harder shots on Monday be a sign that Hjalmarssons completely healed?

I wont say that, he said. Im just playing through it, just trying to do as best as we can.

Hjalmarsson says he just keeps the positive attitude going.

Its just mental a lot. You just try to handle the pain in a good way, he said. Sometimes youre almost more pumped up because you cant play as you want to. Maybe that prepares you in a different kind of way. It sounds weird, but thats how it is.

Kanes memento

When Patrick Kane scored his 100th career goal on Monday night, captain Jonathan Toews made sure he picked up the puck for his linemate.

Hes been thinking about it for a couple of games, Toews said. I could see him looking over there. So I figured I had to go get it.

Kane said his only disappointment was not getting the 100th goal in Washington on Sunday, when his parents and sisters were at the game.
Patrick Kane received the puck from his 100th career goal, even though justice could have been served by Jonathan Toews and left Kane without the memorable piece of rubber. (AP)
(Patrick) Sharp was saying, Dont worry about that one. Youll get more important ones than the 100th. But its nice (Toews) went and got it. I told him Id get his 100th and then I forgot, Kane said.

Injury update

Brian Campbell (left leg) and Dave Bolland (concussion) did not play against San Jose on Monday night. Campbell played the first half of the Blackhawks 4-3 overtime loss to Washington on Sunday and is still listed as day to day. Quenneville hoped that, with the Blackhawks not playing again until Thursday, Campbell could be ready for that game.

Bollands situation is murkier. The center took an elbow to the head from Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina last Wednesday and is still apparently feeling the effects of it. Quenneville could give no timetable for Bollands return.

Right now I dont think anythings changed over the last couple of days, said Quenneville. Asked if Bolland is feeling any better, Quenneville said hes about the same.


Patrick Sharps four-assist night gives him 68 points this season, a new career high. Sharps previous high was 66 last season.

Brent Seabrook played just under 24 minutes with an assist, a team-high six blocked shots and four hits. He finished a plus-2.

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

2010 Blackhawks can relate to Cubs’ quest for elusive title

2010 Blackhawks can relate to Cubs’ quest for elusive title

A young team sits on the cusp of achieving something great. If it’s done, it will erase years of angst, erase decades of frustration and futility.

Six years ago, that was the 2010 Blackhawks with their Stanley Cup triumph. Now it’s the Cubs, who could snap a century-plus long World Series drought. Those who were on that 2010 Blackhawks team can relate to what the Cubs are going through right now: an entire city watching, waiting and hoping for that elusive title. For them, staying loose was the best way to deal with the pressures that come with it.

That Blackhawks squad was a young-up-and-coming group. Ditto for this year’s Cubs. From all outward appearances these Cubs look like a loose bunch. The Blackhawks were the same in 2010, when they were helping the franchise rebuild after a lot of lean years.

“I think there are a lot of similarities,” Brian Campbell said. “I’m not in the [Cubs’] room, but we had a lot of fun in the room with guys who supported each other and had a lot of fun and enjoyed it. It seems like they have a good time over there and they go to work hard every day but enjoy themselves and have some good events. That’s the only way to kind of keep it relaxed.

“There’s pressure in the situation and it had been a while for us. And it’s been a long time for them,” Campbell added. “So I think it’s a good job by a lot of the guys in the clubhouse just keeping it relaxed.”

Jonathan Toews said the Blackhawks that year knew what they could do, but they tried to focus on each game instead of the big picture.

“I wouldn’t say we went in blindly but it was relatively unknown for us. We were just playing and I think we were clicking at the right time. Obviously we had a lot of firepower,” Toews said. “We didn’t really realize how tough it is to get there and we just kind of knew that was our potential and we just kept playing, kept winning. And before we knew it, we were on top.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

Maintaining that composure and relaxed atmosphere was key. But with young teams, coaches can also help in that regard. Coach Joel Quenneville gauged where his 2010 Blackhawks were and didn’t do anything to shake the players’ demeanor.

“We didn’t change our approach as we went along,” Quenneville said. “Guys were always together. They were very loose going into games and together between games and I think it was just a continuation from momentum that was gained as we progressed in the playoffs. As we went deeper and deeper it seemed like it was more enjoyable and the guys continued to have more fun.”

A postseason taste the previous season didn’t hurt. In the spring of 2009 the Blackhawks made their first postseason appearance since 2001-02, advancing to the Western Conference final. They lost to the defending Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in five games but the young Blackhawks took a lot out of getting that far. The next season, they were brimming with confidence.

“We were almost naïve enough to not know how well we were doing at the time and what we were setting up. The next season we had such confidence in ourselves that we knew nobody was going to beat us in the playoffs if we didn’t want them to,” said Troy Brouwer, who’s now with the Calgary Flames. “You go into every game with the mentality that you know you’re going to win and good things can happen.”

Certainly the Cubs have been waiting longer to end their World Series drought (108 years) compared to the Blackhawks (49 years). But a wait’s a wait, expectations are expectations, and pressure is pressure. The Blackhawks dealt with it all beautifully en route to that Cup six seasons ago, and they think the Cubs will do the same.

“They’re going to get more cracks at it, too. So obviously in the future that experience will be great, but it seems like they’re just going into it and playing well at the right time,” Toews said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch and great to see the buzz and excitement. Those guys are just focusing on the job. That’s the No. 1 thing.”

Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Same old story on the penalty kill

Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Same old story on the penalty kill

Here we go again.

Listen, it’s been one of those nights for everyone, including the Blackhawks. So let’s just save ourselves some time and get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames.

1. Good and bad about the penalty kill. OK, let’s start with the good. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill was successful on their last three penalties, including Tyler Motte’s double-minor high-sticking. The bad news is they allowed goals on their first two kills and have now given up 14 in seven games. So what worked on the three late penalty kills? "We just kept our feet moving. We were working. Our shifts were 20 to 30 seconds tops. When you go that short you have the energy to outwork the power play and make up for being down one man," captain Jonathan Toews said. "Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the key right there, and I think our systems fall into place when we’re all moving and we’re all skating the right way."

2. Puck possession. When the Blackhawks are playing at their best, they are dominant in this department. They looked discombobulated in this one from the start and had very little possession, especially early. "Our identity in the past was fast and having the puck. Now we don’t have quite the four-line rotation or the puck enough to get that precision we look for, that identity we’re accustomed to having," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We’re not playing as fast because we’re defending a lot more than we’re used to."

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

3. Forsling hurt. Blackhawks rookie defenseman Gustav Forsling was injured in the second period and did not return. Forsling took a big hit from Lance Bouma along the glass between the two benches. Quenneville said Forsling is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Blackhawks have better depth at defense this season. Now, with Trevor van Riemsdyk out for a few weeks and Forsling potentially missing some time, they’ll need all of it.

4. Corey Crawford doing just fine. Yes, he’s part of the Blackhawks’ penalty kill that is not doing much of anything right now. But he’s also been stellar at 5-on-5, where he’s allowed just three goals this season. If not for Crawford tonight, the Blackhawks aren’t in striking distance when the third period begins and they probably don’t earn that overtime point.

5. Brian Elliott just a little better. Elliott stymied the Blackhawks in Game 7 of their first-round series last spring, and he aggravated them again on Monday night. Richard Panik nearly had the winner on Elliott until the Flames goaltender stopped his shot with his right skate. Elliott was also good in overtime (6-for-6), when the Blackhawks had a 4-on-3 power play. The Elliott of Monday night is the Elliott the Flames were hoping for when they traded for him this offseason.