Skille strikes twice, lifts Hawks to third straight win

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Skille strikes twice, lifts Hawks to third straight win

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010
Poste 10:03 PM Updated 11:39 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Jack Skille came up empty when he fired nine shots on goal against Detroit last Friday. Against Nashville on Wednesday, his percentage was much, much better.

Skille shot twice and scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks got the momentum they were hoping for entering the Christmas respite, as theyre now on a three-game winning streak.

And once again, the Blackhawks won by playing simple, relatively mistake-free hockey. They were solid on defense, they kept penalties low and allowed Corey Crawford to see the shots he needed.

Scoring first was certainly a big factor, said coach Joel Quenneville of Dave Bollands goal, which came off a turnover in the first period. We didnt get frustrated. I thought the guys were very smart and we did what we had to do to be successful.

Ive got to commend the whole group. Our focus was in the right place, Quenneville continued. It wouldve been easy to put your mind elsewhere, relax out there. That was important.

For Skille, it was all about continuing to shoot. His first was a pretty power-play goal on which he waited then fired top-shelf on Anders Lindback. His second put the Blackhawks up 3-1 midway through the third.

I think (my shooting percentage) is still pretty low, Skille said with a grin. (Dave) Bolland made an unbelievable pass to me on the first goal, and I was fortunate the puck bounced my way on the second.

Four of Skilles six goals this season have come against the Predators. So why has he had so much success against Nashville?

I have no idea, he said. Personally Im just focusing on getting the puck in and I think that just puts me in the right position on the ice.

Crawford stopped 24 of 25 shots en route to his third consecutive victory. Bryan Bickell continued his hot streak, scoring a goal for the fourth time in his fifth game
Keeping it simple, thats about it, Bickell said of his success lately. Qs telling me to keep it simple, put shots on net and theyre going in. I cant complain.

The Blackhawks are now playing the type of hockey they need at home: simple and gritty, minus the pretty and cute. Theyre more familiar with each other, their game is sharper and its paying off in much-needed points.

Were finding our way now, Bolland said. Guys are finding their roles. It took a little bit longer than we wanted it to, but were finding our roles on the ice now.

Injured progressing

Viktor Stalberg (head) was cleared to play but was kept out of Wednesday nights game against Nashville. Stalberg said hell take advantage of the extra days to keep improving.

Ill get a few more days in between and make sure Im 100 percent to go (after Christmas), said Stalberg, who added hes working to get back to game shape. When it gets up to four (days off the ice), its like starting over again. Its amazing how you can lose it so quickly. But Ill keep working away and be ready soon again.

Marian Hossa skated with the team on Wednesday and Quenneville said he should be just about ready to go after Christmas. Patrick Kane skated on his own Wednesday; Quenneville said he did well.

Well see how he comes out of the break with a chance of playing in one of those first couple of games, Quenneville said of Kane.

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

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LAS VEGAS — As soon as the Blackhawks’ season ended, the questions began for Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marcus Kruger. They were two of the most likely candidates to be exposed to the expansion draft and the two most likely to be part of the Blackhawks’ attempts to get back under the salary cap.

One is now a Vegas Golden Knight (for now). The other remained with the Blackhawks on Wednesday night but could nevertheless be on the move soon.

Van Riemsdyk was one of 30 players selected by the Golden Knights at the NHL Expansion Draft on Wednesday in Las Vegas, but will he stay there? A source said that van Riemsdyk, one of 13 defensemen the Golden Knights picked, could be traded again soon and that Carolina and Dallas were possible destinations. The 25-year-old van Riemsdyk played in 58 games with the Blackhawks last season, recording five goals and 11 assists. Van Riemsdyk has one season remaining on his current contract with a $825,000 cap hit.

As for Kruger, who has two seasons remaining on his current deal ($3.083 million cap hit per season), he was still with the Blackhawks as of Wednesday night. Will he remain there this season after all? Marian Hossa will not play in the 2017-18 season, and the Blackhawks may be able to place him on long-term injured reserve, which wouldn’t make their salary cap situation nearly as dire as it originally was going to be. But a source said Kruger could still be traded to the Golden Knights for one of their defensemen. If that happens, the Blackhawks would miss Kruger’s defensive work and his penalty killing.

When asked about this uncertain summer back in April, Kruger said he wasn’t paying much attention to the rumors. But he knew what the possibilities were.

“If that happens, that’s the situation,” he said then. “We all know what’s going on and stuff like that can happen. You have to get ready for that.”