Chicago Blackhawks: Niklas Hjalmarsson

Hawks player reviews: Niklas Hjalmarsson

June, 19, 2014
Jun 19
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Niklas HjalmarssonBill Smith/Getty ImagesNiklas Hjalmarsson helped anchor the Blackhawks defense last season.

Niklas Hjalmarsson, defenseman

2013-14 cap hit: $3,500,000| Age: 27 | Season stats: 4 goals, 22 assists, plus-11

Season recap: Hjalmarsson has developed into the Blackhawks’ most dependable defensive player. The pairing of Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya was given the toughest assignments and allowed Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook to be used in more offensive situations. Hjalmarsson also set career-highs with 22 assists and 26 points.

Season highlight: Hjalmarsson had two assists, four blocked shots and was a plus-2 in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 2 of the second round.

Season lowlight: Hjalmarsson was on the ice for three 5-on-5 goals by the St. Louis Blues and had a 36.5 Corsi percentage in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 three-overtime loss in Game 1 of the first round.

Final grade: A.

Inside the numbers: Hjalmarsson led the Blackhawks’ defensemen with a 29.8 quality of competition time on ice percentage, according to extraskater.com.

Notes: Hjalmarsson led the Blackhawks with 157 blocks in the regular season and 57 blocks in the playoffs. He finished second among all players in the playoffs.

Quotes: “He’s a tough character,” Oduya said of Hjalmarsson in the playoffs. “He’s a Swedish Viking. He’s one of a kind obviously. It’s good for morale. We know he’s always out there doing his job.”

What’s next: Hjalmarsson is in the Blackhawks’ plans for many years to come. His new five-year contract goes into effect next season, and his cap hit will jump to $4.1 million. He’s expected to be paired with Oduya again next season.

Hawks confident despite facing elimination

May, 28, 2014
May 28
1:10
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson has seen how adversity has affected his team in the past.

With those previous experiences in mind, Hjalmarsson said he isn't worried about how the Blackhawks will react to facing elimination against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeJoel Quenneville
Tasos Katopodis/Getty ImagesJoel Quenneville says the pressure is on the Kings for Game 5, not his Blackhawks.
"I think we're the kind of team that in the past and just during the regular season, when we're down, we're playing our best hockey," Hjalmarsson said after the team's morning skate on Wednesday. "That's what I expect from the team tonight and from myself. I think we're going to have our best game of the series here. Everybody's confident here in our team that we can turn this around.

"We did it last year against Detroit, so I think that's huge for our confidence that we know we can turn this thing around."

The Blackhawks are drawing much of that confidence from having overcome a 3-1 series deficit last season. The Blackhawks were down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals and rallied to win three straight games and take the series. The Blackhawks went on to win the Stanley Cup.

"That's a big reason why we have the confidence," Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad said. "Not only that, but you see a lot of teams this year -- [the Kings] did it twice -- have won three games in a row."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said his message to his team is about focusing on the smaller picture.

"Going into the game, that's what we're focused on, trying to win the game shift to shift," Quenneville said. "Win the first period, go from there. You look back over this series, we lost three games with three one-period stretches where we uncharacteristically gave up quantity and preventable goals. We have to make sure that's the area we shore up. Let's focus on winning our battles in those one-shift areas."

Quenneville also believes the pressure is on the Kings to close out the Blackhawks.

"I feel it's on L.A," Quenneville said. "Look back against Detroit. We came in here excited about being at home, taking advantage of the home crowd. I don't want to say loose, but let's be excited about the opportunity. Let's go. We got to win one game here."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter doesn't believe the pressure is an issue for either team.

"I think both teams are probably used to pressure," Sutter said. "That's how you get to the 100-game mark or close to 100-game mark. It's what your players want and obviously what they thrive on. I don't think it's more on one team or the other."

Hawks' defense part of reason for deficit

May, 27, 2014
May 27
7:18
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CHICAGO -- Blackhawks defensemen Michal Rozsival and Nick Leddy were caught watching as the Los Angeles KingsTanner Pearson jumped on a loose puck and fed Tyler Toffoli in the slot for a crucial goal in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

Toffoli skated past Blackhawks defensemen Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson for a loose puck in Chicago's zone and scored to break a 2-2 tie in Game 3.

Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith had the puck taken away from him by Kings forward Anze Kopitar, and defenseman Brent Seabrook was slow to get to the net to stop Marian Gaborik from scoring the second goal in Game 4.

While Chicago's penalty kill has been accountable for five goals in the past three games, that hasn’t been the Blackhawks’ only issue in their three consecutive losses, which have put them behind 3-1 in series. They also have had a few breakdowns they’re not accustomed to seeing from their defensemen.

“We’ve let in some uncharacteristic type of goals in this series that we probably haven’t seen all year or in the playoffs, for sure, that we think are preventable,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “We shore that up, and we’ll keep ourselves in the game and find a way.”

The Blackhawks allowed eight even-strength goals over the past three games. They had given up 21 even-strength goals over the first 13 playoff games. In the series, Oduya has been on the ice for six even-strength goals, Seabrook for four, Hjalmarsson for three, Rozsival for three, Leddy for two and Keith for one.

Not all of those goals were the defensemen's fault, but Seabrook said there’s definitely room for improvement on the back end.

“Absolutely, I think, like I said, I’ve got to be better,” Seabrook said Tuesday. “It doesn’t just start with the penalty kill. It’s in every facet of the game. I think we’ve all got to be out there doing things that are going to make us win a game, and I think some things happened last game that are uncharacteristic, but I’d say you’ve got to give L.A. credit. They’re forcing us into different situations, but we’ve got to be better and we will be better.”

Oduya and Hjalmarsson have had the best Corsi numbers (shot differential) among the defensemen despite starting in the defensive zone more than the others, according to extraskater.com. Oduya has a 57.0 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks have 61 shots for and 46 against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations in the series). He’s followed by Hjalmarsson (55.3 percent), Rozsival (50.5), Seabrook (50.0), Leddy (48.5) and Keith (47.8). Leddy and Rozsival start the most in the offensive zone.

Quenneville thought what it came down to was his defensemen needing to play better around their own net.

“I think where pucks going through us or not recognizing the coverage that’s around the net,” Quenneville said. “They got some guys that they make some blind plays. Around the net, they got quick sticks, and they got some good shooters as well. I think we got to make sure we’re going to be defending around our net better than they are at their net. It could be the difference.”

Hjalmarsson glad to be communicating

May, 19, 2014
May 19
3:01
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BlackhawksCal Sport Media/AP ImagesNiklas Hjalmarsson won't shy away from the action despite his recent neck injury.
CHICAGO -- Communicating is part of what makes Niklas Hjalmarsson an effective defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Whether it’s talking between shifts on the bench or yelling and screaming to organize or alert his teammates on the ice, Hjalmarsson has relied on communication throughout his career.

Hjalmarsson had that tool taken away him for the most part the last two weeks. He was medically advised to rest his vocal chords after he was struck in the throat by a puck against the Minnesota Wild on May 4. He didn’t miss a shift or a game due to the injury, but he had to adapt and learn to play without relying on his voice.

Hjalmarsson spoke to the media Monday for the first time since the incident and acknowledged being quiet was at times difficult the last few weeks, but he felt fortunate to escape serious injury and be able to speak at all again.

“It was pretty scary once it happened,” Hjalmarsson said on Monday. “It was tough to breathe there for a couple minutes. I was just glad that I recovered quickly and once I figured out that I’m able to breathe, it was a big relief. Yeah, I guess I was pretty lucky and I’m just glad to be able to talk again and can’t wait to get rid of that neck guard that I’m still wearing.”

The black protective neck guard has been an inconvenience the past five games for Hjalmarsson, but he especially disliked not being able to talk with defensive partner Johnny Oduya and speak up on the ice.

“It was pretty tough in the beginning,” Hjalmarsson said. “I’m a guy that usually talks a lot on the ice especially with my D partner, screaming at him and screaming at my teammates sometimes, too. I think for some of the forwards, they were pretty happy with me not being able to talk for some time.

“As far as Johnny O, I think he’s pretty happy with that I can be able to communicate again. It was a little challenge, but playoffs is ... you’ve got to play through some injuries every now and then. Hopefully it’ll be better from now on.”

Hjalmarsson understood the seriousness of his injury and attempted to be as silent as possible. He said he felt some pain when he spoke.

“The doctor just told me, ‘You shouldn’t talk for two weeks. You should let it rest. Don’t talk unless it makes you money,’” Hjalmarsson said. “I really tried my best. A couple of sentences here and there I was able to squeeze in. I think I did a pretty good job. I’m not the guy that talks the most in our locker room, so I don’t think the guys noticed it too much. But if it would have happened to a guy like [Andrew Shaw] or someone like that, I think it would have been better.”

Whether or not his teammates noticed he was quieter than usual off the ice, his play on it continued to be recognized. Hjalmarsson hasn’t stopped stepping in the way of the pucks despite what happened to him. He’s blocked 12 shots in the last five games and leads the NHL with 42 blocks in the playoffs.

“I think every time I hear him talk it’s in Swedish anyways,” Blackhawks forward teammates Brandon Saad said with a smile. “There’s not too much communication. But, no, he’s a great player, and he leads by example by the way he plays. Regardless of whether he’s saying stuff or not, the way he plays on the ice with blocking shots and playing well defensively, it speaks for itself.”

Words not essential for Hjalmarsson, Hawks

May, 7, 2014
May 7
2:58
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CHICAGO -- Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson may not have been completely silent on Tuesday.

"I think I heard him yell a few times last night, so maybe that's the energy of the game or the adrenaline that you get from playing," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeNiklas Hjalmarsson
Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty ImagesNiklas Hjalmarsson stayed quiet on the ice -- literally -- on Tuesday after taking a puck to the throat in Game 2.
Hjalmarsson may have released some loud sounds in Game 3 of the Blackhawks' second-round series with the Minnesota Wild, but he kept his words to himself. He played Tuesday despite being unable to speak after taking a puck to the throat in Game 2.

The situation wasn't ideal for Hjalmarsson or his teammates, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't notice any lapses due to it. Hjalmarsson still played a lot of minutes, was often matched up against the Wild's top line and still sacrificed his body to block shots.

"There was no communication last night with him," Quenneville said Wednesday. "He was quiet. But he still played through some tough shifts. I think in his game his instincts are always in the right place defensively and trying to get in lanes and kill plays. He's going to get some big assignments as well. I think the hockey sense takes over, and whether his instinct is naturally to maybe yell or talk in the middle of a shift on the ice, maybe -- I haven't talked to him about how challenging that aspect was in the game last night. Maybe we'll get an answer."

Hjalmarsson's inability to communicate had the greatest potential to affect defensive partner Johnny Oduya, but Oduya didn't find it to be an obstacle on Tuesday. Oduya believes his past experience with Hjalmarsson helped with that. They have played together for about 2½ seasons with the Blackhawks and also played for Sweden in the 2014 Olympics.

"I think after a while you know tendencies in people and people you play with," Oduya said. "That's why it's beneficial if you can stay in D pairings or you can stay with some guys for a longer time. Same thing goes with the D's communicating with Corey [Crawford] too.

"It's kind of the same setup where now I know what he's thinking of doing and makes it a little easier for me. I can play off that. And at times there's going to be situations where you still have to speak and know callout commands, whatever. Yeah, the better you know somebody, the easier it is."

No one would have faulted Hjalmarsson for being a bit more careful around flying pucks Tuesday, but he resumed standing right in front of them. He blocked four more shots in Game 3, including one that struck his leg and immediately sent him to the ice. He now has a league-high 34 blocked shots in the playoffs.

"It's a different situation getting hit in the neck, but he came out, did what he had to do, still played great, still did what he does for our team," Kane said. "So I think that's one of the guys you really respect come playoff time, you know, blocking shots. He did it again in the first period, where he blocked one and it looked like he was down and out and came back and played. He's been doing that a long time for us."

Oduya labeled what Hjalmarsson does as being fearless.

"Toughness is not always how hard you hit somebody," Oduya said. "A lot of times it's what you can take and go through, just being fearless. That's something I think he proves, and he does that every night. I don't know if you get surprised or not. But you wonder what goes through his mind when you get hit with pucks like that."

Blackhawks looking to close another series

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
2:22
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Chicago BlackhawksJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks have their first chance to close out their first-round series with the Blues on Sunday.
CHICAGO -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s teams have a history of closing a series when given the opportunity during his tenure.

The Blackhawks have had 12 chances to finish a team in a playoff series over the past six seasons. Ten times, the Blackhawks have taken care of business. The only two instances where that didn’t happen were in a Game 7 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in the conference quarterfinals in 2011 and a Game 5 loss to the Canucks in the conference semifinals in 2010. The Blackhawks bounced back with a Game 6 win to knock off the Canucks in 2010.

Chicago will get its first chance to close out its first-round series with the St. Louis Blues on Sunday after taking a 3-2 series lead with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 5 on Friday.

Quenneville wasn’t sure why his teams had a history of success in such games, but he was happy they did.

"We got some guys who like to rise to challenges in big games and big settings, and I think they’ve proven that with their history,” Quenneville said at the United Center on Saturday. "I think they get excited in that situation. I think with that experience in these situations can be beneficial.”

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By the numbers: Hawks-Blues, Game 5

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
12:15
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ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a look by of the number of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of their first-round series:

* Game 5 was the fourth game in the series to be decided in overtime. The NHL record for most overtime games in a series is five, which was set in 1951 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens and again in 2012 between the Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes.

* The Blues had a 50.5 Corsi close percentage (the Blues had 51 shots attempts to the Blackhawks’ 50 in 5-on-5 situations with the game tied or within a goal.) Corsi close is used to combat score effects. Despite the shot advantage, the Blackhawks scored three goals to the Blues’ one in those situations.

* Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa had a game-high seven shots on net. He leads the league with 28 shots on goal in the playoffs.

* Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked a game-high six shots. He leads the NHL with 24 blocked shots in the playoffs.

* Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka won 15-of-17 faceoffs. It was the best performance by a Blue in a playoff game since faceoffs began being tracked during the 2000-01 season.

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By the numbers: Hawks-Blues Game 4

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
12:04
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CHICAGO -- Here's a look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their first-round series by the numbers:

• Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and has an NHL-leading four goals in the playoffs.

• Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews had two assists in the win. He has a team-high five points in the series.

• The Blues scored twice in the final two minutes of the second period. Five of their 11 goals in the series have come in the final two minutes of periods.

• The game included nine penalties, but none were called after the second period.

• Toews won 12-of-23 faceoffs. He's won 68-of-106 for a 64.2 percentage in the series.

• The Blues were 1-for-5 on the power play and are 2-for-21 for in the series.

• The Blackhawks were 1-for-2 on the power play and are 2-for-16 in the series.

• Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy had a game-high 83.9 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks had 26 shots for and five against when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations,) according to extraskater.com.

• The Blackhawks had 15 players with a Corsi percentage greater than 50 percent. The Blues had two.

• Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo had a game-high 28:55 of ice time. He leads the league with 127:16 of ice time in the playoffs.

• The Blues blocked 25 shots and the Blackhawks blocked 17.

• Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp started nine of his 14 shifts in 5-on-5 situations in the offensive zone. He had a game-high 10 shot attempts, including seven on goal.

• Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked four shots and is tied for first in the league with 18 in the playoffs.

• Hjalmarsson led the Blackhawks with 28:43 of ice time. It was the first time in the series that Duncan Keith didn't lead the Blackhawks in ice time.

• Blues forward Steve Ott and Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell tied for a game-high seven this. Bickell is second in the league with 28 playoff hits. Ott is tied for fourth with 21.

A little pain worth the win for Hjalmarsson

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
2:49
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CHICAGO -- The fear of a potential goal is far greater than the fear of physical pain for Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson whenever he sees a puck bolting toward his team's net.

Hjalmarsson learned that about himself early in his hockey career. Losing always hurt more than anything else. He can get over the pain. Giving up a goal isn't so easy. It's why he's never been one to hesitate aligning his body with a rapid-moving puck.

[+] EnlargeBlackhawks
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesThe Blackhawks' Niklas Hjalmarsson had a team-high 157 blocks in the regular season.
"I've always been like that since I was a kid," Hjalmarsson said Wednesday. "I always hate to lose, and I try to do everything I can to prevent goals being scored when I'm on the ice. Usually that means you have to block a couple shots."

Hjalmarsson has been effective in doing just that throughout the Blackhawks' first-round series with the St. Louis Blues. He has blocked 14 shots, third among all players in the playoffs, through three games.

"Positionally, he's sound," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "His anticipation of when the shot's going to be, he's really good at it. His proximity to the puck makes it a little bit less dangerous as far as getting hit in other areas. He's got that added protection around the skates, which [without them] can be dangerous with feet problems. I'm sure he has more than his share of bruises on top of bruises. And the willingness to do it is a big factor."

Hjalmarsson's shot-blocking skills have been essential to the Blackhawks' penalty kill. He has helped hold the Blues to one power-play goal on 16 chances in the series.

"We've had a lot of penalty kills, and it's desperate times in the playoffs," Hjalmarsson said. "You really want to be able to do everything you can to prevent them [from scoring]. We've been killing a lot of penalties the first three games. You got to do what you got to do. I think we've been doing really good so far on the kill. Hopefully we can keep it going here."

Hjalmarsson has paid a price at times for his commitment to preventing goals in any possible way. Pucks have caught him on less padded areas of his body three times in the series. Each time he has slowly skated off the ice, gone to the bench, hunched over in pain for a bit and returned to the ice for his next shift.

His teammates are often in awe of his ability to bounce back.

"It seems like it's happened plenty of times before where it seems like he's down and out or whether he's hurt or if he just gets stung, but he always gets back up and gets out there the next shift," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. "It's pretty amazing."

Blackhawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank believes blocking a puck is more impressive than dropping gloves with an opponent.

"They say guys fighting and everything is tough, but stepping in front of pucks takes some serious courage," Brookbank said. "[Hjalmarsson] and [Michal Handzus] and [Johnny Oduya] and a lot of guys get in front of pucks, and it takes a lot to do that. I know it doesn't feel good, but he lays it on the line and does a good job at it. So we're definitely happy to have him doing that for us.

"I've taken some pucks, and they don't feel good if you get them on the flesh. It's not easy, but [Hjalmarsson] battles through it and he's one of the toughest Swedes I know."

Hjalmarsson joked that he so often limped off the ice after being hit by a puck because he wasn't tough enough.

"Maybe I'm sensitive or something like that," said Hjalmarsson, who had a team-high 157 blocks in the regular season. "It's just one of those when you get in on the inside of your knee or outside of your knee right on the bone, it just stings for a minute or 30 seconds and after that you feel better. Usually it's just for a minute or two it really hurts. After that, you're usually fine.

"I'm just in the moment. I'm just thinking about what I have to do on the ice to help the team and just try to be in the way. ... You're pretty much just waiting [when the shot comes], hoping you get the shots somewhere where you have pads, otherwise it's going to sting a little bit."

Quenneville has become so accustomed to Hjalmarsson blocking shots and being in pain that he never worries about losing his defenseman to injury when it happens.

"He's blocked so many hard shots and key shots that however it's going to turn out, it's not going to slow him down," Quenneville said. "He's a warrior."

By the numbers: Hawks-Blues Game 3

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
10:59
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CHICAGO -- Here's a look, by the numbers, at the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their first-round series:

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped all 34 shots he faced, including 26 at even strength. His even-strength save percentage rose to .920 and overall save percentage to .932.

• The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on the power play. They're 1-for-14 for the series. They have 12 shots on goal from their power plays.

• The Blues were 0-for-3 on the power play. They're 1-for-16 in the series. They have 26 shots on net from their power plays.

• Blues forward Steve Ott and Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell tied for a game-high eight hits. Bickell is second in the NHL with 21 hits in the playoffs.

• The Blues had 14 players with a Corsi percentage (shot differential) higher than 50 percent, according to extraskater.com. The Blackhawks had four. Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko led all players with an 83.3 Corsi (the Blues had 20 shots for and four against when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations). Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg had a game-low 25 Corsi (the Blackhawks had six shots for and 18 against when he was on the ice).

• The Blackhawks and Blues combined for seven penalties, which was the lowest amount in the series. They combined for 10 in Game 1 and 17 in Game 2.

• Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews won 19-of-24 faceoffs. He's won 56-of-83 faceoffs for a 67.5 winning percentage in the series.

• Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith played a game-high 27:27, and Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo played a team-high 26:33. Pietrangelo is the first in the NHL with 98:21 of ice time in the playoffs, and Keith is second with 96:32.

• Blues forward Jaden Schwartz had two takeaways and leads the NHL with seven in the playoffs.

• Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked two shots. He's second in the NHL in 14 blocked shots in the playoffs. He also leads the league with 19:24 of short-handed ice time through three games. He played 4:01 on the penalty kill in Game 3.

• Blackhawks forwards Brandon Bollig and Marcus Kruger started every shift in the defensive zone. They combined for 18 shifts.

• Blues forward Alexander Steen attempted 12 shots, including six on net. He has taken 35 shots, including 24 on net, in the series.

• Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa attempted nine shots, including four on net. He has taken 28 shots, including 21 on net, in the series.

Hawks looking forward after Game 1 loss

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
6:16
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ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks know better than to believe one game decides a playoff series.

The Blackhawks expressed disappointment again Friday after losing 4-3 in three overtimes to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday and thought there were some lessons to be learned in the defeat, but they weren't panicking.

[+] EnlargeJoel Quenneville
Billy Hurst/CSMCoach Joel Quenneville and the Hawks aren't going to let a Game 1 loss hurt their focus as they look to even the series in St. Louis.
"It's the first game," Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said Friday. "Back and forth game, a few chances on either side. It was a pretty physical game. The series will get tougher and harder as we move along. But I think both sides have experience. Certainly in our locker room we're comfortable drawing on past experiences and what we've been through before. We've been down 1-0 in the playoff series before. We know what it takes to win on the road and to steal a game, so we're trying to do that [on Saturday]."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville doesn't have to look far back to remember a time when his team responded after losing the first game on the road in the playoffs. The Blackhawks dropped the first road game against the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins on their way to the Stanley Cup last season.

"We'll move forward," Quenneville said Friday. "Certainly you'll take your lumps from last night. It's a short night when you play six periods of hockey, not a full six, and I'm sure the guys are going be a little bit tired today, but we'll have a meeting here shortly and get ourselves excited.

"But we've gone through some stretches where we've lost opening games. We've lost last year all four first games in their buildings and seemed to recover. That's something we can build on. It's a long series. We expected a tough series against this team. There's going to be no easy games, but it's a good example that going forward we've got to find a way to overcome our opponents."

The Blackhawks did respond with road wins in the playoffs last season, but they also had the luxury of home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. That's not the case this season. They'll need to win at least once in St. Louis to take the series from the Blues.

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By the numbers: Hawks-Blues Game 1

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
11:18
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ST. LOUIS – Here's a look at the St. Louis Blues' 4-3 three-overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday by the numbers:

• After scoring three goals within 7 minutes and 10 seconds in the first period, the Blackhawks didn't score in the game's final 82 minutes and two seconds.

• Blues goaltender Ryan Miller allowed three goals on the Blackhawks' first seven shots on net. He stopped the next 35.

• Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith played 40-plus minutes for the third time in his career. He played 40:59 on Thursday. He played 40:12 against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals last season and a career-high 48:40 against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals last season.

• Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson played a game-high 61 shifts. He also had a game-high six blocked shots.

• The game was the longest in the Blues' history. Their previous longest game lasted 37:07 into overtime against the Detroit Red Wings in 1984.

• The Blues had 103 total shot attempts, including 52 on goal, and the Blackhawks had 84 shot attempts, including 42 on goal.

• The Blues allowed six more power plays due to penalties on Thursday. Their opponents have had 62 power plays over the last 14 games, killing off 53. By comparison, the Blackhawks have allowed 36 power plays in their last 14 games

• Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo led everyone in ice time, playing 44:08.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford's 48 saves were a season-high. He set a career-high with 51 saves against the Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals last season.

• The Blackhawks scored one power-play goal on six opportunities. They have scored multiple power-play goals just once in the last 25 games. The last time was against the Blues on March 19. The Blackhawks also had five shots on goal during their power plays on Thursday.

• The Blues had 10 forwards with possession numbers better than 50 percent in 5-on-5 situations, and the Blackhawks had five, according to extraskater.com.

Patrick Sharp is the lone Blackhawks forward to have positive possession numbers in all six games against the Blues this season, according to extraskater.com. He had a 54.2 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks had 26 shots for and 22 against when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations) on Thursday. He hasn't had a Corsi percentage lower than 54 percent against the Blues this season and has a 56.3 Corsi (112 shots for, 87 against) in all six games.

• The Blackhawks won 62-of-109 faceoffs. Jonathan Toews led the Blackhawks by winning 21-of-32 faceoffs. The Blues had five players who won less than 50 percent of their faceoffs.

• The Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko and Chris Porter tied for a game-high seven shots on goal.

• Toews led the Blackhawks' forwards with 32:37 of ice time. He had missed the team's last six games. Patrick Kane, who was out the last 12 games, played 28:31.

• The longest game in Blackhawks' history took 53:50 to decide in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens on April 9, 1931. Thursday's game lasted 40:26 of overtime.

Hawks' Brookbank putting team first

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12
3:26
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Sheldon BrookbankAP Photo/Gene J. PuskarSheldon Brookbank has rotated in and out the Hawks' lineup as the team's sixth defenseman.
Sheldon Brookbank has been the ultimate utility player for the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

He’s rotated in and out the lineup as the team’s sixth defenseman. He’s played a top-4 defenseman role when needed. He’s played forward when Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has wanted to send a message to another forward or didn’t have enough healthy forwards on the roster. Brookbank has been on the ice for as little as 4:33 or as much as 25:27 depending on the game this season.

It’s not exactly what Brookbank imagined he’d being doing for the Blackhawks when he signed a two-year deal with them in July of 2012. It’s not always been easy, especially being a healthy scratch for much of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run last season, but the 33-year-old Brookbank prides himself on being a team player and that’s what he’s attempted to be.

“It has been a little tough,” Brookbank said recently. “I’ve always tried to think team first. That’s the way I kind of look at it. I obviously want to play top 6 and play every night. That’s what I strive for. We had close to a perfect season last year, so there’s no arguing the recipe didn’t work or whatever.

“I mean I didn’t really know 100 percent what to expect [when I signed with the Blackhawks.] Obviously I thought I’d be playing more. That’s for sure. But like I said, our team is that deep and we won the championship. If that’s what I am on a championship team, then I’ll take it.”

It’s that approach that has earned Brookbank the respect of his teammates.

(Read full post)

Hossa likely to play vs. Red Wings

March, 15, 2014
Mar 15
2:00
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Marian HossaBill Smith/Getty ImagesMarian Hossa said he felt good after a 30-minute intense practice on Saturday.

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa will likely play against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday after missing five consecutive games with an upper-body injury, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday.

Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson missed practice Saturday, but Quenneville said they were just resting and would play Sunday.

Hossa suffered the undisclosed injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 1. He participated in his first practice with the team since the injury Friday and practiced again Saturday. The Blackhawks have gone 2-3 in Hossa’s absence.

“He certainly adds every piece you look for in a player,” Quenneville said after practice at Johnny's IceHouse West on Saturday. “So, all areas of our game should get enhanced with him in the lineup. He’s excited to get back. You watch him skate, and he just adds speed, something that has kind of been lacking in our team game. [He helps with our] power play, penalty killing. He’s one of the best players in the league, so he’s definitely going to make a difference.”

Hossa said he felt good after a 30-minute intense practice Saturday.

(Read full post)

Hjalmarsson to play, Hossa to skate

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
5:57
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson did not practice Tuesday, but he was expected to play against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Quenneville said Hjalmarsson was having a "maintenance day," and that the fact Hjalmarsson blocked two shots off his leg during the third period Sunday "probably had something to do with" him missing practice Tuesday.

Quenneville also said Marian Hossa was expected to skate alone in Chicago on Wednesday. He will not travel with the Blackhawks to Colorado. Hossa suffered an upper-body injury March 1 and was expected to miss 2-3 weeks. Quenneville said Hossa was getting closer to returning to game action.

"We'll see," Quenneville said of Hossa's playing. "We'll get a better idea when we get him together with our team. I don't think he's too far away."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26