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
CSNChicago.com

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.

Briefly

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.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 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. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, and have eliminated the Minnesota Wild from the playoffs three times from 2013-15.

But it's the Wild that NHL coaches believe will win the Western Conference this season as we approach the trade deadline.

In his annual midseason poll, TSN's Bob McKenzie surveyed 25 of 30 coaches to vote on multiple categories, such as the league's best player and the team most likely to win it all.

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According to the survey, 11 coaches predicted the Wild will win the West while the Blackhawks and Sharks tied for second with four votes.

As for winning the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals are the favorite, earning 10 votes, followed closely by the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins with eight. The Wild and Blackhawks rounded out the poll with three and two votes, respectively.

Joel Quenneville earned one vote as the NHL's best coach, which is three fewer votes than he had last year, despite this year being arguably his most challenging — and best — coaching job since arriving in Chicago, given the youth on the roster.