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.

Preview: Corey Crawford ill, Scott Darling in for Blackhawks vs. Blues

Preview: Corey Crawford ill, Scott Darling in for Blackhawks vs. Blues

The Blackhawks were already without Niklas Hjalmarsson on Sunday night. Now they’re without Corey Crawford as well.

Crawford is ill and Scott Darling will start in his place when the Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Crawford was expected to start but did not skate this morning – goaltending coach Jimmy Waite took the other net. Coach Joel Quenneville does not believe Crawford has the mumps – “I haven’t heard the word mumps around here,” he said. The Vancouver Canucks are currently working through an outbreak of the mumps and several teams battled it a few seasons ago.

As for the backup, Quenneville was hoping Lars Johansson could be up in an emergency situation, as long as logistics work out. The Rockford IceHogs are scheduled to play at the Ontario (Calif.) Reign later today.

Marian Hossa did not skate this morning but he is expected to play tonight. As Quenneville said on Saturday, Hjalmarsson is day-to-day with the upper-body injury he sustained on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes but is out tonight.

The last time the Blackhawks faced the Blues was in their Winter Classic game on Jan. 2. A month later coach Ken Hitchcock was fired and, now under Mike Yeo, the Blues have gone 7-3-0 since then. That includes two losses heading into their bye week, however, which they come out of tonight.

“I think usually teams seem to respond pretty well with coaching changes. Whenever you get something new, something to renew the group, whether it’s systems or different energy in the locker room, teams seem to respond at least in the beginning,” Jonathan Toews said. “We can expect this team to be really hard to play against and obviously pretty eager to, maybe, be better overall than they have been all year, knowing what they’re capable of as a team. We know whether we’re playing St. Louis or Minnesota, teams that are close to us in the points race, the points are always huge.”

BLACKHAWKS VS. ST. LOUIS BLUES

6:30 p.m.

TV: NBCSN

Live stream: NBC Sports app

Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Tomas Jurco-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Andrew Desjardins

 

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell-Michal Rozsival

 

Goaltender

Scott Darling

 

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Corey Crawford (ill).

 

St. Louis Blues (via NHL.com)

Forward lines

Alex Steen-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Patrik Berglund-David Perron

Dmitrij Jaskin-Jori Lehtera-Magnus Paajarvi

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

 

Defensive Pairs

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

 

Goaltender

Jake Allen

 

INJURIES/ILLNESS: None.

Tomas Jurco ready for 'fresh start' with Blackhawks

Tomas Jurco ready for 'fresh start' with Blackhawks

Tomas Jurco lingered near the end of the Blackhawks' practice on Saturday, watching as fellow Slovak/now-teammate Marian Hossa drew a few things up on the dry-erase board.

Having a few familiar countrymen's faces (Hossa and Richard Panik) in the room helps. But for Jurco, just getting a fresh start is a welcome sight.

Jurco skated on the third line with Marcus Kruger and Hossa, and it looks like he'll make his Blackhawks debut there when the team hosts St. Louis on Sunday night. Jurco spent the last few seasons with the Detroit Red Wings but couldn't find a steady place in the lineup. Now here, he's hoping to change his fortunes.

"I mean, it's been tough couple of years for me in Detroit, so I was talking to [general manager] Ken Holland and we were discussing some options. I wasn't progressing in the last year or so, so I think this is a great time to push my game to another level," Jurco said on Saturday. "Like I said, this is another fresh start for me and I'm very excited for it."

[MORE: Niklas Hjalmarsson out Sunday vs. Blues]

Jurco joins a Blackhawks team that is surging (winning eight of nine) these last few weeks of the season. He and Hossa played together in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, so there's some familiarity as well as friendship there.

General manager Stan Bowman said Friday night that, based on Jurco's skills and the Blackhawks' style of play, Jurco should fit in well.

"I think he's going to get better here," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's going to get a little bit more comfortable with how we have to play, knowing that you want to go right through the puck and you want to pressure. Offensively I think he's got a chance to recapture some confidence. I think he moves well. I like his size. [It's] just getting a little more comfortable with our game and trusting his own instincts right off the bat."

It was time for a change for Jurco. Whether he blossoms like Panik, who came here from the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and is now putting up career numbers as part of the Blackhawks' top line, remains to be seen. It's an opportunity nonetheless, and Jurco is ready to take advantage of it. 

"It was a number of different reasons in Detroit it didn't work out for me. I wasn't playing much, so that's obviously tough. And when you don't play for a few weeks and you play a couple of games, it's very tough," Jurco said. "I'm very happy that I'm here and excited for tomorrow."