No timeline for injured Blackhawks

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No timeline for injured Blackhawks

DETROIT Niklas Hjalmarsson skated again on Saturday but will be out tomorrow when the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

Jonathan Toews (concussion) is still progressing but coach Joel Quenneville said the captain will not join the Blackhawks on this road trip. Quenneville said Toews is still not skating, but were seeing progress and optimistic that hes going to be back.

Hjalmarsson (concussion) said he felt good, albeit tired, Saturday after going through the teams practice assistant coach Mike Kitchen was working with him on conditioning.

It just feels good to be on the ice, he said. Obviously not playing is not the most fun part. But they have to get your conditioning back. Kitch is very good at getting you pretty tired out there, so Ive been through a couple of good skates here the last couple of days. I feel good and well take it from there.

The Blackhawks have been hit with one of the toughest injury bugs the ones on which its so hard to put a timeline. But Quenneville said injuries are part of every season.

I think when we played concussions werent even an injury or probably werent diagnosed the same way. With history, time and more awareness to it were more familiar with how to treat them. Its something thats progressed in our game but thats part of it, he said. Youre always hit with injuries. Some teams are decimated by them but its something you go through. Were getting tested down the stretch without two key guys like Johnny and Hammer. Its a great test and we loved the response last night. It makes you a better team.

Meanwhile, Dave Bolland sported some stitches near his right eye after a run-in with Ottawas Jason Spezza on Friday night. Bolland wore a visor at Saturdays practice.

Well try that for a while and see how it goes, said Bolland of the visor. Its a little different when you have a shield in front of you. But its always safer.

Ray Emery will start against the Red Wings tomorrow.

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

The Blackhawks have talked the past several games now about how they need to play better, how they need to get back to their 60-minute game. But even when you tell yourself you have to improve the message doesn't always translate into immediate action. That's especially true if, despite so-so play, you're still managing victories or still eking out a point.

Sometimes, you need a jolt to realize you have to get better. Well, that thud the Blackhawks made in South Florida ought to get their attention. 

The Blackhawks' 7-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, that "ugly, ugly game," as coach Joel Quenneville, is the latest in what's been a mediocre stretch for the team. They've been leaning on their goaltending again (please see Minnesota, Montreal, Ottawa and Dallas games). Or they've been leaning on their ability to wake up in the third period after sleepwalking through the first two. Sixty-minute games and four-line rotations, such a big part of the Blackhawks' success through February and early March, have been absent.

Call it the Blackhawks' mid-March malaise.

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It hasn't been more painful because the Blackhawks have still found ways to get points. Or at least they did until Saturday night, when two "yapping" penalties – Quenneville's (accurate) description of Ryan Hartman and Marcus Kruger's unsportsmanlike calls – started the Blackhawks' demise against the Panthers. Players told the traveling media following the game that this was a wake-up call. It ought to be.

Granted, the Blackhawks' late-season issues aren't as bad as some of their fellow Western Conference teams. The Minnesota Wild are 3-10-1 in March. The San Jose Sharks have lost six in a row. This also isn't the first time the Blackhawks have gone through this late-season mediocrity.

Entering the 2015 postseason they struggled to score goals and lost four in a row (five goals in those four games). It turned out alright. Still, best to avoid bad habits.

Perhaps the Blackhawks are in a bit of a swoon because, really, there's not much for which to play in these final few games. They don't care if they win the Presidents' Trophy (and they probably won't). They're currently in first place by seven points following the Wild's 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit on Sunday. Whether the Blackhawks finish first or second, they'll start this postseason at home. 

So is this panic-inducing? No. Is it a concern? Certainly. The Blackhawks can't start thinking they'll automatically flip the switch as soon as the postseason begins.

The Blackhawks want to get their four-line rotation going again. Artem Anisimov returning in the next week or two will certainly help that. They want to get their overall game going again. The Blackhawks have been telling themselves what needs to be done for a few games now. Maybe they needed a wake-up call. On Saturday, they got it. 

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks give up season-high seven goals

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks give up season-high seven goals

Here are some of Saturday's top stories in Chicago sports:

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White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Former Bulls center Joakim Noah suspended 20 games for violating NBA's anti-drug policy

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Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Illinois OLB Dawuane Smoot