Chicago Blackhawks

Teammates helping acclimate Frolik to center

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Teammates helping acclimate Frolik to center

Friday, March 25, 2011Posted: 4:20 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Michael Frolik needed some faceoff advice.

The Blackhawks center, who hadnt played that spot in quite a while, had taken some faceoffs in past seasons with the Florida Panthers but not many. So Frolik talked with Ryan Johnson, who has a team-best 62.7 faceoff win percentage.

Stay low and shorten up his movement, Johnson said he told Frolik. Sometimes guys get these big swooping moves where you lose your balance, lose your power. Its something I take a lot of pride in them. I dont want to overwhelm him, but little things help.

Apparently it did.

Frolik, who won seven of 11 draws against his former team on Wednesday, is currently winning 45.3 percent of his faceoffs. But thats just been one adjustment that Frolik has had to make with moving back to center. But be it staying strong defensively, taking on more responsibility or adapting to linemates, Froliks done just fine.

He accepted the role and hes doing pretty well, said linemate Tomas Kopecky, whos done the wing-to-center move himself before. It was the same for me when I moved to center. Its a little harder on the draw. But hes a pretty strong kid. You dont realize how strong he is on the stick. He can win a lot of good draws.

Frolik said hes learned plenty from his new teammates but especially appreciated Johnsons faceoff advice.

I think hes one of the best in the league, Frolik said. He told me how to hold the stick a little bit and to sit low and then stop. That helped me a lot. Hes a good guy at that.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Froliks entire game has developed well with the Blackhawks.

Hes getting more familiar with his teammates and systems and more comfortable with the puck as well, he said. He, Hossa and Kopey have been effective. Defensively the one thing that he brings is responsibility. When you have a guy in the middle that knows his way around both ends, its helpful.

It doesnt hurt that his linemates are Kopecky and Marian Hossa; the three share a common language that has translated to a comfortable partnership on the ice. The trio combined for a pretty goal on Wednesday night, a Hossa-to-Frolik-to-Kopecky connection that elicited a wow from Kopecky afterward.

Froliks adjusting just fine to new responsibilities. He continues to try and get better at each one of them.

Its always nice when you can play like that, hopefully its not going to stop and were going to keep playing well, Frolik said. Weve had some chances before but we just couldnt score. Hopefully itll turn.

Campbell adapting

Defenseman Brian Campbell said earlier this week that he would have to deal with his left foot injury and he reiterated that on Friday. Campbell played more than 20 minutes against Florida on Wednesday but said the injury does affect him.

It kind of affects my skating a little bit. Thats the frustrating part, he said. At different times, it gets to be challenging but its improving every day. Obviously I was able to practice today and you just try to keep going.

Injuries

Dave Bollands status (concussion) has not changed and Patrick Sharp (left knee) is progressing just fine, Quenneville said. He added that hes still hoping Sharp can return by the end of the regular season.

Bollands situation, however, is harder on which to put a timetable.

The uncertainty leaves you concerned, Quenneville said. But things can change quickly.

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

Brandon Saad back in veteran-like form for Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Brandon Saad back in veteran-like form for Blackhawks

Brandon Saad seems like more of an NHL veteran than he is. From his size to his composed style of play to what he’s already accomplished at this level, Saad gives off that vibe that he’s been around much longer than he actually has. Even his teammates forget that.

“You think he may be 27, 28 years old. He’s only 24 years old. He’s still a young kid,” Patrick Kane said. “Guys like [Ryan] Hartman and [Vinnie] Hinostroza are only 23 so he’s not much older than them, even though he might seem it. He’s got a great future.”

Saad’s future is once again being played out in Chicago and he couldn’t feel better about returning. Back in a familiar city and a familiar spot on the ice – alongside Jonathan Toews – Saad is ready to reignite the top line with Toews and Richard Panik. Outside of some scrimmages the line hasn’t gotten much of a chance to see where things are yet – their first preseason game was against Columbus on Saturday. But Saad said things are coming together.

“It was still [Toews’] first game back and my first time with him but we’re pretty familiar with each other. I don’t think it’ll take long at all,” he said following the team’s first practice at Notre Dame on Sunday. “Any time you come from a five-month summer into the season your timing’s always a little off, and then with a new player going back to a familiar player, I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Toews recognized Saad’s desire to be a big part of this team when the left wing was a rookie. That drive hasn’t diminished.

“His rookie year I kept saying you could see that intangible quality in him, that he wanted to get better every single night,” Toews said. “You see players with raw, physical talent and ability but don’t take it upon themselves to be one of the guys every single night. Saader was showing that right away and you could tell he was just going to get better and better.”

The powerful part of Saad’s game the Blackhawks missed the most was evident in his first preseason contest back with him, against Detroit on Thursday. The Red Wings didn’t have their top squad but Saad was nevertheless dominant, recording a hat trick in which all three goals were within a few feet of the net. The top line has had that element here and there the past two seasons but no doubt felt Saad’s absence.

“He’s a high-end player or potential player that should develop into a regular scorer and who knows what he could do,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I still think there’s room where maybe he could go to a better level as far as production goes, because he gets so many looks around the net with his quickness and the way he protects the puck and the way he can shoot it.”

Saad reaching another level. Again, you see what he’s done so far and you forget that he’s only 24. He still has a lot of time – and potential – ahead of him.

“He’s stepping in here knowing he’ll be one of those guys heavily keyed upon for us,” Toews said. “And he’s ready for that and excited for it.”

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

It’s preseason: you don’t need a lot of build-up. Let’s just delve right in, shall we?

1. Lots of shots, but…

The same Joonas Korpisalo that the Blackhawks’ youngsters scored five goals against on Tuesday was on top of his game on Saturday. The Blackhawks peppered him with 54 shots but only two got through, and the second was a 6-on-4 power-play goal in the final two minutes.

“I thought we could have gotten a little more traffic in front of him," Nick Schmaltz said. "I thought we were playing along the outside. I mean we had some great looks. He made some big saves. Some nights you get the bounces and some nights you don’t.”

2. Bérubé’s Blackhawks debut.

Jean-François Bérubé had a tough sequence early in the second period, when he gave up two goals in a 28-second span. This was against a Columbus team that didn’t send many of their top players. He also didn’t see a ton of action in this one; the Blue Jackets fired just 21 shots his way.

3. Growing pains.

Alex DeBrincat had his up and down moments on Saturday night. His turnover led to Columbus’ first goal, he took a slashing penalty and he fought the puck quite a bit. You still saw glimpses of that skill, though, especially with his quick release. Hey, he’s a 19-year-old guy getting his first taste of the NHL. Nights like this are going to happen.

“We all make mistakes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You gotta be safe in certain areas and you learn from that.”

4. Slash-o-meter.

Four more were called on Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if that number starts dwindling sooner rather than later, though, because the edict has apparently changed already. Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported earlier on Saturday that the league told officials to ease up on slashing and faceoff violations. But we all figure that’s going to happen once the regular season begins anyway, right?

5. Notre Dame bound.

The destination is familiar but the Blackhawks threw it into their second week of camp this season. It’ll be bonding time for the Blackhawks, who will send a smaller group for several practices there this week. Quenneville figures it’ll be a productive time. “We’ll get some bonding in, play golf together, have a nice outing, couple of road games and a nice campus.”