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.

Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

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USA TODAY

Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

PITTSBURGH – Well, that looked more familiar, didn’t it?

The Blackhawks put talk into action on Wednesday night, storming out to an early lead and never letting up in a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re sitting in a good spot right now, sporting a nine-point lead over the Minnesota Wild – yes the Wild still has that game in hand – and, with five games remaining, they once again played the complete game they’d been missing.

The schedule doesn’t let up, so let’s get to the notables.

What Worked: The Blackhawks’ first period. If there’s such thing as a statement 20 minutes, the Blackhawks made it in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins made a bad pass, the Blackhawks turned it into an opportunity and, a few times, a goal. The Blackhawks had a similarly sharp first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. On Wednesday, however, they didn’t lose any steam later.

What Didn’t Work: The power play. Yeah, you really have to reach to find something that didn’t work for the Blackhawks in this one. Their power play, however, didn’t do much. Their best chance on it was a Jonathan Toews shot on their second power play; that shot was blocked before it got to Marc-Andre Fleury. Their third power play, which came on a phantom tripping call on Conor Sheary, was their quietest of the night.

Star of the game: Tanner Kero. The kid’s been alright at second-line center, and he did a little bit of everything on Wednesday night. Kero had five shots on goal, the secondary assist on Artemi Panarin’s early goal and added a breakaway goal of his own early in the third period. He also won five of 11 faceoffs. Centering Patrick Kane and Panarin could be daunting but in his short time there, Kero’s handling it very well.

He Said It: “It’s a nice opportunity that he’s taken advantage of in a short amount of time. You get a little more defensive responsibility. The upside with him is we wanted him to get better offensively as well, so it’s been a good couple of games.” Coach Joel Quenneville on Kero.

By the Numbers: 

850 – Career coaching victories for Quenneville.

524 – Career goals for Marian Hossa, who scored his 25th of the season late in the first period.

39 – Time, in seconds, in which the Blackhawks scored two goals late in the first period (Marcus Kruger at 19:05 and Marian Hossa at 19:44).

6 – Consecutive victories for the Blackhawks over the Penguins. They’ve outscored the Penguins 20-8 over that span.
 

Big first period paces Blackhawks over Penguins

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AP

Big first period paces Blackhawks over Penguins

PITTSBURGH – There are certain trends through which the Blackhawks tend to go sometimes. They can be so-so against teams on the bubble or out of the postseason. But face a playoff-bound team and the Blackhawks usually come with a top-notch game.

Exhibit A on that came on Wednesday.

Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane each had two-point nights, and Marian Hossa scored his 25th of the season as the Blackhawks beat the Penguins 5-1 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks snapped a three-game winless streak and now have a nine-point lead over the Minnesota Wild in the West.

Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 32 shots. Richard Panik scored his 22nd goal of the season. Bryan Rust had the Penguins' lone goal at 5:46 of the third.

The Penguins, much like the Blackhawks, entered this one with 103 points. The Penguins were without several injured players, including Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Trevor Daley. Still, it's the Penguins, and you can never take them lightly.

[Buy Blackhawks tickets right here]

The Blackhawks got the early lead, then really pounced in the final five-plus minutes of the first period. The Blackhawks got stellar set-up passes from Patrick Kane, Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz and finishes to accompany them. Two of their goals (Marcus Kruger and Hossa) came in the final minute of the first period for that 4-0 lead.

The Penguins had the first six shots of the third but the Blackhawks would score on their first of the period when Tanner Kero, taking the turnover from Justin Schultz, finished on a breakaway.