Stalberg ready; Kane, Hossa still sidelined

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Stalberg ready; Kane, Hossa still sidelined

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010
3:32 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Viktor Stalberg should be back Wednesday night when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators but Patrick Kane who didnt practice Tuesday and Marian Hossa will be out until after Christmas.

Stalberg has been cleared to play after he was boarded last Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche. Stalberg said he went through the battery of tests to make sure all was fine.

Ive been cleared with the league in terms of protocol, said Stalberg, who left last Wednesdays game immediately after that hit. I got caught along the boards it was a pretty physical game. (Ryan OByrne) finished his check and hit me in a bad spot. Its one of those things that happens. It couldve been worse, and now Im ready to get back.

Hossa looked good at practice on Tuesday, and he stayed on the ice long after his teammates were gone. Kane (left ankle), meanwhile, did not skate. Coach Joel Quenneville said there was no need to rush him with just one game remaining before Christmas.

Weve got three days off (after Wednesday) and hes still able to do a lot off the ice, Quenneville said. The conditionings going to be right for the game conditions; its just a matter of him feeling good on the ice. Its not too far away with him, either. The fact that hes not on the ice, I dont think you should think hes far away.

Bickell surging

Bryan Bickell has been on an offensive tear this month. Bickell has tallied points in six of his last seven games, including five goals.

Hes got that shot and quick release. Hes got nice hands and protects well in tight areas, said Quenneville of Bickell, whos been part of a strong checking line with Dave Bolland and Fernando Pisani. Those guys got quality ice time. When that line scores, it sets us up for a pretty good night.

Bickell said hes just felt confident in his shot lately.

Yeah, good things when you throw it on net. Lately theyve just been going in and hopefully they just keep going in, Bickell said. When they go in I enjoy it, but we have to keep on the winning way, keep this team going.

The 24-year-old got off to a strong start in early games. But when his game dipped a few weeks later, he was a scratch. Bickell said Quenneville talked to him about picking his game up, and hes been solid on both sides recently.

There are going to be roller coasters. I had to be more focused on what I needed to do game in and game out. I had to be more consistent, and my play over the last couple of weeks going really good. I have to keep it more consistent, thats basically it.

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

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, he said that there would be change. That started on Monday when assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired.

The move came five days after the Blackhawks were swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said in a statement that, “we believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward. Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future.”

Kitchen has been a member of coach Joel Quenneville’s staff since 2010. The two go back to their playing days, however, when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and also the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was Quenneville’s assistant when the two were with the St. Louis Blues and when Quenneville was fired as Blues coach midway through the 2003-04 season, Kitchen was promoted to head coach.

As part of the Blackhawks’ staff Kitchen’s focus on special teams, mainly the penalty kill. That kill finished the regular season 24th overall in the league, although that has to come with an asterisk. The penalty kill started the 2016-17 season so poorly that it was never going to get too far out of the basement. It did get stronger as the season wore on, and it was fourth overall during the Blackhawks’ short stay in the playoffs.

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

The Blackhawks' season ended much sooner than expected after being swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Nashville Predators.

But for some players, their hockey season may not be finished yet.

The IIHF World Championships begin May 5, and an early postseason exit gives several Blackhawks an opportunity to play in the tournament.

With the National Hockey League saying it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, players may be more inclined to join given the uncertainty of when they'll be able to represent their countries again — if ever, for some.

Here's an update on which Blackhawks players could be participating:

— Patrick Kane said Saturday he's taking the weekend to mull over Team USA's offer, and will make a final decision in the next "day or two."

— Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews each declined their invites from Team Canada, electing to use a lengthy offseason to recharge and focus on training for the 2017-18 NHL season.

— Corey Crawford and Nick Schmaltz said they have not been contacted by their respective countries, but both said they would consider going if they are.

— Artemi Panarin has reportedly already accepted Team Russia's offer to play.

— Niklas Hjalmarsson said he's "thinking about" Team Sweden's offer after the NHL's decision not to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics. "Who knows when I'll ever get a chance to play for my country again, so that might be factor," he said.

— Marcus Kruger said he's talking with Team Sweden officials, and has expressed interest in going.

— Marian Hossa said he informed Team Slovakia that he will not be playing: "Let the young guys play."

— Richard Panik will not be participating either, saying he doesn't want to risk injury as he seeks a new contract.