Intense Blackhawks drill Oilers for crucial win

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Intense Blackhawks drill Oilers for crucial win

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011
Posted Feb. 9, 10:55 p.m. Updated 12:19 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

EDMONTON, Alberta The Chicago Blackhawks had to get their focus and emotions together quick.

They had just said goodbye to teammate Jack Skille, who, along with two others in the Blackhawks system, was sent to Florida for forward Michael Frolik and Alexander Salak. But about an hour later they had to face the Edmonton Oilers.

MORE: Stan Bowman thrilled with trade

With all that was going on, the Blackhawks got what they needed: a quick start, a solid game and two much-needed points.

Patrick Sharp scored his 27th goal of the season and Patrick Kane added a power-play goal and an empty-netter in the Blackhawks 4-1 victory over Edmonton at Rexall Place on Wednesday night.

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak and kept the Blackhawks in 11th place; most of the teams in front of them also won on Wednesday. Corey Crawford stopped 23 of 24 for the victory and Bryan Bickell added his 13th goal of the season.

The Blackhawks didnt have much time to digest the trade, as it happened minutes before they took the ice.

Its weird, especially right before the game. Jacks getting ready just like everyone else and the next thing you know hes not in the locker room, said Jonathan Toews, who had two assists on Wednesday. Hes a good guy, a good teammate and we wish him the best. At the same time were looking forward to the player coming in.

But the Blackhawks got focused quick, coming out fast against the Oilers and taking a 1-0 lead after one on Sharps goal.
Bryan Bickell made a nice move in tight on a breakaway for his 13th goal of the season and first since Jan. 16. The goal gave the Blackhawks some breathing room with a 2-0 lead in the second period. (AP)
A good start can give you confidence through the rest of the game to keep that going, said Duncan Keith. Its nice to get the lead and we used our speed and puck possession. We didnt throw pucks away. We were holding onto those pucks and causing them to commit penalties.

The Oilers went to the box plenty on Wednesday, giving the Blackhawks six power plays. The advantage was still quiet for the Blackhawks until their final one, when Kane took a pretty Tomas Kopecky pass to beat Devan Dubnyk.

That last power play was kind of a bang-bang play, Kane said. Well take the goal but (the power play) wasnt very good at all. You get six, especially with the talent we have here, you have to score some goals.

Still, the Blackhawks got enough of everything on a night they needed something positive. They used their speed. They stayed out of the penalty box until late. They switched up their defensive pairs and coach Joel Quenneville was happy with the results of the changes sometimes a fresh look you discover things. All the pairs added a little more pace to our game, he said.

The Blackhawks will meet their new teammate in Dallas when they fly in on Thursday night. Lineups will change. The Blackhawks need to get results like Wednesday night cant.

This was a very important game, Quenneville said. You look at the standings, everyone in our neighborhood had winning nights. We had to take care of our own business and we did.

Saying goodbye

The Blackhawks said it felt strange to have a trade come so close to game time and it wasnt easy saying goodbye to Skille.

Its kind of tough to see a guy traded before the game. Thats the first time its ever happened to me, Kane said. Frolik is a pretty good player; Ive played against him. Hell definitely help our team. Jack was good in the locker room and someone I got close to the past couple of months. Hopefully its better for the team and hopefully it works out.

Duncan Keith said a few emotions were felt.

That was kind of weird but thats hockey for you, he said. Its always sad to see a teammate go. Ive known Jack for a long time. Hes a good guy, a good teammate and I wish him nothing but the best in Florida.

Defenseman Brent Seabrook said its tough to lose a teammate right before the game. But were professionals and its part of the game. You know we wish Jack the best. He was a great player for us and we wish him well.

Hossa hurt

Marian Hossa suffered an upper-body injury in the second period on Wednesday and did not return. Quenneville said Hossa is day-to-day, and his injury is not serious.

WATCH: Coach Q explains injury
Briefly

Ryan Johnson and Jordan Hendry were back in the lineup on Wednesday. Johnson played 10 minutes, 31 seconds with two shots and a blocked shot. Hendry, who was paired with Brian Campbell in the defensive switches Nick Leddy was with Keith and Seabrook was with Niklas Hjalmarsson played 13 and a half minutes.

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

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”