Chicago Blackhawks: Zach Parise

W2W4: Wild at Blackhawks

December, 16, 2014
12/16/14
12:36
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Here’s what to watch for when the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild play at the United Center on Tuesday:

• The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 games and are on a six-game home winning streak. They lead the Central Division with 43 points and have a 21-9-1 record.

• The Wild haven’t won or lost consecutive games over their last 10 games. They won their last game and will be looking for their first two-game winning streak since winning back-to-back games on Nov. 16 and Nov. 20. The Wild are 16-11-1 with 33 points.

• This will be the first of five games between the Blackhawks and Wild. They last met in the Western Conference semifinals last season. The Blackhawks eliminated the Wild in six games.

• Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta will make his second consecutive start. He’s 4-2-0 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .944 save percentage this season. Darcy Kuemper will likely start in net for the Wild. He is 11-9-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .906 save percentage this season.

• The Blackhawk will be without defenseman Duncan Keith due to an undisclosed illness. Keith leads the Blackhawks in ice time, and other defensemen will be relied upon against the Wild. Defenseman David Rundblad returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last five games. Defenseman Tim Erixon will play in his second game after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

• The Blackhawks’ lines will remain the same again. Their lines during the morning skate were Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Sharp, Daniel Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith.

Zach Parise leads the Wild 23 points. Nino Niederreiter leads them with 13 goals. Kane leads the Blackhawks with 14 goals and 29 points.

• The line of Bickell-Shaw-Sharp has had the team’s best possession numbers the last two games. Sharp has been back four games since missing a month with a lower-body injury.

• The Blackhawks rank first in the league with a 90.9 penalty-kill percentage and 18th with a 17.6 power-play percentage. The Blackhawks have killed 28 of their last 30 penalties and have scored a power-play goal in two of their last 27 opportunities. The Wild are third with an 87.4 penalty-kill percentage and tied for 26th with a 13.0 power-play percentage

Toews' matchup could be key in Game 5

May, 10, 2014
5/10/14
7:53
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Finding Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews a more favorable matchup could be one strategy Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville pursues to get his team going Sunday in Game 5 against the Minnesota Wild after two consecutive losses in their second-round series.

Toews suffered his worst possession game of the season in Friday's Game 4, according to extraskater.com, recording a 27.6 Corsi percentage. The Blackhawks had eight shots for and 21 against when Toews was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations. He had zero points, two shots on goal and minus-1 rating in the 4-2 loss, which allowed Minnesota to knot the series 2-2.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Toews, Mikko Koivu
Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY SportsHis matchup with Mikko Koivu hasn't gone so well for Jonathan Toews the past two games.
Wild coach Mike Yeo utilized his opportunity to change lines last at home by predominantly matching Toews up with forwards Nino Niederreiter, Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle and defensemen Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin. The Wild’s forward line spent eight-plus minutes on the ice with Toews and the defensemen spent 11-plus minutes.

Yeo began putting that line with Toews’ in Game 3. It had slightly less success possession wise but still kept Toews contained. He had a 59.4 Corsi percentage with 19 shots for and 13 against in 5-on-5 situations. He also had zero points, two shots on goal and a minus-1 rating.

Quenneville was able to get Toews facing Wild forward Zach Parise and his line more during the first two games. Toews had a team-high 73.7 Corsi percentage, with 14 shots for and five against, in Game 2 while facing Parise for nearly 10 minutes. Toews had a goal and a plus-1 rating in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win in Game 2. He also had an assist, a plus-1 rating and a 36.0 Corsi percentage (nine shots for and 16 against) in Game 1.

Quenneville said Saturday he could use his own opportunity for last line change to free Toews from seeing the same players he saw in Games 3 and 4.

"I would think every team in the league, probably its No. 1 priority [is to limit Toews]," Quenneville said. "The matchup, they’ve had it both games. Suter probably plays exclusively against Toews on the back end, and up front he sees a lot of Koivu. We’ll see. I know that having the last change we’ll see what we can do, what we look to do. Every game is different, but, certainly, that’s a very good pair, and it’s a very good line as well."

Toews is third on the Blackhawks with nine points in the playoffs. He has four goals and five assists in 10 games.

By the numbers: Hawks vs. Wild, Game 1

May, 3, 2014
5/03/14
11:17
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Here’s a look by the numbers at the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of their Western Conference second-round series:

" The Blackhawks scored two power-play goals. It was just the third time they scored multiple power-play goals in a game since Jan. 1. They scored a total of three power-play goals in six games against the St. Louis Blues in the first round.

" The Blackhawks killed off all three of the Wild’s power plays. The Blackhawks have been perfect on the penalty kill in five of seven playoff games this season. They’re 30-of-32 on the penalty kill in the playoffs overall.

" The Blackhawks and Wild were nearly even in shots with the game tied or within a goal. The Wild had a slight advantage in those situations as they had a 51 Corsi close percentage (shot differential with the game tied or within a goal in 5-on-5 situations.) The Wild had 25 shots, and the Blackhawks had 24. Corsi close is used to eliminate score effects.

" Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell each scored two goals. They have combined for 27 goals in 30 playoff games the past two seasons.

" Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 30-of-32 shots for a .938 save percentage. Since allowing four goals on 31 shots to the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 of their first-round series, he has made 156 saves on 164 shots for a .951 save percentage in the last five games. The Blackhawks have won all five of those games.

" Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov allowed four goals on 21 shots. He has stopped 55-of-67 shots for a .821 save percentage in the playoffs.

" The Wild had 12 players who had a Corsi percentage (shot differential) of better than 50 percent. The Blackhawks had six. Jonas Brodin led the Wild with a 73.7 Corsi percentage (the Wild had 14 shots for and five against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations).

" The Blackhawks’ fourth line had the team’s lowest Corsi percentage. Forwards Brandon Bollig, Michal Handzus and Joakim Nordstrom had an average 22.6 Corsi percentages (the Blackhawks had 4.3 shots for and 14.7 against with them on the ice).

" Bollig averaged nearly a hit a minute. He had seven hits and played 8:00 of ice time.

" Wild forward Zach Parise had a game-high six shots on goal. Kane led the Blackhawks with five shots on goal.

" Kane had a plus-2 rating. He leads the NHL with a plus-8 rating in the playoffs.

" Brent Seabrook picked up two more assists. He is tied for a team-leading eight points despite having missed three playoff games due to suspension.

" Wild defenseman Ryan Suter had a game-high 25:22 of ice time. Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks with 24:12 of ice time.

" Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews won 16 of 24 faceoffs. He’s won 99 of 160 faceoffs for a 61.9 percentage in the playoffs.

What you need to know: Hawks vs. Wild

May, 1, 2014
5/01/14
9:33
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Patrick Sharp, Ryan Suter AP Photo/Ann HeisenfeltPatrick Sharp had five goals in the Blackhawks' five-game quarterfinal series victory over the Wild last season.
Here's what you need to know about the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks' second-round playoff opponent:

• The Wild and Blackhawks met five times in the regular season. The Wild won 5-3 in Chicago on Oct. 26, 4-3 in Minnesota on Dec. 5 and 2-1 in Minnesota on Jan. 23. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 5-1 in Minnesota on Oct. 28 and 3-2 in a shootout in Chicago on April 3.

• The Wild advanced to the second round by knocking off the Colorado Avalanche, the Central Division's top seed, in seven games. The Wild went 3-0 at home and 1-3 on the road in the series. Four of the seven games went into overtime.

• The Blackhawks eliminated the Wild from the Western Conference quarterfinals in five games last season. Two of the five games went into overtime. The Blackhawks outscored the Wild 13-3 in the three non-overtime games. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 132-of-139 shots for a .950 save percentage in the series. Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp had five goals in the five games.

• Forward Zach Parise led the Wild with 10 points in this season's first-round series. He had three goals and seven assists in seven games against the Avalanche. He had 29 goals and 27 assists in 67 regular-season games. He had one goal and a minus-7 rating against the Blackhawks in the playoffs last season.

• The Wild were 3-for-16 on the power play against the Blackhawks during the regular season. The Wild were 16th in the league with a 17.9 power-play percentage during the regular season. They're 3-for-21 in the playoffs.

• The Wild were 11-for-14 on the penalty kill against the Blackhawks during the regular season. The Wild were 27th in the league with a 78.8 penalty-kill percentage during the regular season. They're 22-for-25 on the penalty kill in the playoffs.

• Wild forward Matt Cooke has three more games to serve in his seven-game suspension for a knee-to-knee hit on the Avalanche's Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of their first-round series. Cooke had 10 goals, 18 assists and a plus-8 rating in 82 regular-season games this season. He had two goals and one assist against the Blackhawks this season.

• Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper departed Game 7 against the Avalanche during the third period due to an injury. The extent of the injury was unknown after the game. He stopped 116-of-127 shots for a .913 save percentage in the series. He started the final four games of the series. Ilya Bryzgalov replaced Kuemper during the third period in Game 7. Bryzgalov started the first two games of the series and allowed eight goals on 45 shots in two losses. Five different goaltenders played for the Wild during the regular season.

• The Wild finished the regular season with a 43-27-12 record and finished fourth in the Central Division. They went 6-3-1 in their final 10 regular-season games.

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• Wild forward Jason Pominville had a team-high 60 points in the regular season. He had 30 goals and 30 assists. He had four goals and one assist against the Blackhawks during the regular season.

• Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy had six points against the Wild during the regular season. He had one goal and five assists. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane had three goals and two assists, and forward Brandon Saad had two goals and two assists against the Wild this season.

• The Wild averaged 33.3 shots for and 24.9 shots against during their series with the Avalanche. The Wild held the Avalanche to 12 shots on net in Game 4.

• Defenseman Ryan Suter plays big minutes for the Wild, averaging a league-high 29:24 of ice time during the regular season. He's averaging 29:47 of ice time during the playoffs.

• Wild forward Mikko Koivu has won 106-of-174 faceoffs for a 60.9 winning percentage in the playoffs.

• The Wild averaged 27.7 hits a game against the Avalanche. The St. Louis Blues averaged 41.3 hits against a game against the Blackhawks.

Bryan Bickell and Leddy were two of the Blackhawks' top possession players against the Wild during the regular season. Bickell had a 70.7 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks had 41 shots for and 17 against when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations. Leddy had a 64.2 Corsi percentage (77 shots for, 43 against).

• The Wild's lines late against the Avalanche were Parise-Koivu-Charlie Coyle, Matt Moulson-Mikael Granlund-Pominville, Nino Niederreiter-Kyle Brodziak-Dany Heatley and Cody McCormick-Erik Haula-Stephane Veilleux. The defensive pairings were Suter-Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella-Jonas Brodin and Clayton Stoner-Nate Prosser.

Wild win a huge payback for suffering fans

May, 5, 2013
5/05/13
7:34
PM CT
Burnside By Scott Burnside
ESPNChicago.com
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- On a day when life was breathed back into the State of Hockey, it turned out to be the kid from Newport Beach, Calif., who did the resuscitating.

Go figure.

In what now ranks as one of the most important victories in franchise history, rookie Jason Zucker delivered the Minnesota Wild’s first home playoff victory in more than five years, snapping home the overtime winner just 2:15 into the extra session Sunday to give the Wild a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks still lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Tuesday, but for a host of reasons, Sunday’s game was a significant test of character for the Wild and a huge payback for a fan base that might have wavered in recent years but has never let go its love affair with the team.

"It’s been a long time coming. And it was an entertaining game, an exciting game. Obviously, an overtime win is always great at home but in the playoffs and you’ve been waiting for so long, it’s very big," said center Matt Cullen, who was born in Virginia, Minn., and returned home to play for the Wild in 2010.

"It’s been a long time coming, and I’m a Minnesotan, so I know how long people have been waiting for playoff hockey. It’s a lot of fun," said Cullen, who was one of the Wild’s players, setting up the winning goal by shoveling a pass to Zucker from his belly behind the Blackhawk net.

After playing by far their best game of the series with a vigorous forecheck and more physical play, it looked like the Wild was actually going to slide into playoff oblivion. Holding onto a 2-1 lead late into the third period, the Wild lapsed into a passive mode, allowing the Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith to blast home the tying goal with 2:46 left in regulation.

"Yup, that sucked," Zach Parise acknowledged.

Had the Blackhawks finished the job in overtime to take a commanding 3-0 series lead, it would not have been a surprise to anyone, even the 19,238 holding their collective breaths in the Xcel Energy Center when the extra session opened.

"It didn’t matter how we got there, whether the whole period was tied 2-2 or whether they got one late, you can’t let that bother you. I think that was a little bit of the message between the third period and overtime," Parise said.

One of two key additions made by the Wild last offseason to help rejuvenate the stagnant franchise -- Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter signed identical 13-year deals worth $98 million last July 4 -- Parise had been frustrated by his lack of production as the Wild dropped the first two games in Chicago. He had zero points and was minus-three heading into Game 3 but scored on a backhand Sunday to give the Wild the 2-1 lead that looked for a long time like it would stand as the deciding marker.

Like Cullen, Parise is a Minnesotan and his desire to play in his home state was one of the key factors in his decision to leave New Jersey, where he’d played his whole career.

He said the vibe in the building was special, different on Sunday.

"They’ve been patiently waiting for a playoff team here. And we finally got one, got a team into the playoffs and then, most importantly, in the first game, you get a big win," Parise said. "You get the excitement and hopefully you carry that over into the fourth game. Like I said, the energy in the building was awesome and when we got the winning goal it was so loud, it was great."

Before Game 3, head coach Mike Yeo acknowledged he wasn’t sure how his team would respond after dropping Game 1 in overtime and then being crushed 5-2 in Game 2. But on Sunday it resembled the team that had for the middle part of the shortened regular season challenged Vancouver for the Northwest Division lead. The Wild outshot the Blackhawks 37-27 and outhit them 34-13.

And when it looked like all that hard work might be for naught, they found a way to reward not just their fans but themselves with a key win and what was the team’s first home playoff win since April 11, 2008.

"I think, at the end of the day, they deserved to win the game," Keith said.

"They were a little quicker than us tonight. I think our strength is using our speed and our skill and we need to use our speed. We didn’t use it enough tonight."

After the game, as many teams do, the Wild gathered near center ice to salute the fans with upraised sticks. On this day the gesture seemed to carry more meaning.

"Obviously, it's pretty special. Definitely for these fans but for our team too," said rookie Charlie Coyle, who picked up the primary assist on the Parise goal, his second assist in the series.

"We have a good group of guys in here. We’ve been working all season -- this is the result we want, this is where we wanted to be at the end of the season and we’re just going to keep going from here."

Rapid Reaction: Wild 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)

May, 5, 2013
5/05/13
5:35
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Here’s a quick look at the Minnesota Wild’s 3-2 overtime win over Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at the Xcel Energy Center on Sunday.

How it happened: Wild forward Jason Zucker delivered the game-winning goal after two minutes and 15 seconds of overtime. The Wild put an emphasis on being more physical and aggressive after dropping the first two games to the Blackhawks, and that’s exactly what they did. The Wild hit the Blackhawks up and down the ice and made everything difficult on them. The Wild outhit the Blackhawks 34-13 and also carried that over to their offensive game by outshooting the Blackhawks 37-27. It wasn’t until the later stages of the third period that the Blackhawks found some life again. Down 2-1 in the third period, Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith blasted a shot from the left circle into the net to tie the game at two at 17:14. Wild forward Zach Parise initially put his team ahead with a backhanded shot into the top right corner at 3:09 of the third period. Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya scored the game’s first goal in the first period, and the Wild’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard answered later in the period. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane accounted for two assists and has five assists in the series. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 34 saves, and Wild goaltender Josh Harding made 25 saves.

Player of the game: Zucker came through with the game-winner.

What it means: The Wild needed to win Sunday to keep their series hopes alive. The Blackhawks still lead the series 2-1, but the Wild found a formula which they will continue to try to use in the coming games against the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks could have shrugged off a loss against a desperate team, but Sunday’s loss has to be disturbing to them in the way the Wild dominated most of the game.

What’s next: Game 4 of the series will be held in Minnesota on Tuesday. Game 5 will be in Chicago on Thursday.

Crawford overcomes early adversity

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
12:05
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford couldn’t have begun the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs any worse.

The first shot the Minnesota Wild took on Crawford in Game 1 of their first-round series bypassed him and found the inside of the net on Tuesday. Crawford saw the play unfold and was in position to stop the puck, but somewhere between the Wild’s Cal Clutterbuck shooting it and the lamp being lit, Crawford lost sight of the puck.

Crawford’s focus was undoubtedly shaken.

“It was definitely a battle,” Crawford said. “It’s not the way you want to start a game. I can’t remember what time it was on the clock when I got that shot. I wasn’t getting any work. I just tried to get myself in the game after that. … I saw the release. I just kind of lost the puck halfway. Whatever, it’s over. It happened. I just tried to regroup as quick as possible.”

A season ago, the early goal might have foreshadowed a long, difficult game for Crawford. But this season, he learned to keep his focus and not let any one goal affect him. It stuck to that blueprint again on Tuesday.

Crawford bounced back after Clutterbuck’s goal and didn’t allow the Wild to beat him again over the game’s final 70-plus minutes. He stopped the Wild’s next 26 shots and helped the Blackhawks to a 2-1 overtime win in Game 1.

“I was able to regroup pretty good,” Crawford said. “The guys were behind me, encouraging me.”

The Blackhawks’ confidence in Crawford and his own confidence in himself appeared to grow as the game progressed. The Wild didn’t have as many shot attempts as the Blackhawks did (37-27), but the Wild compiled a lot of quality ones, and Crawford was there to deny each one.

In overtime, Wild forward Zach Parise had one of the game’s best attempts, a wide-open look from the slot. Crawford knocked the shot away with his blocker, and the puck skipped just past the left of the net.

“He’s got a quick release,” Crawford said. “I just tried to read it as good as I could and just barely got enough of it.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by the save and how Crawford handled the early adversity, but it was nothing Quenneville wasn’t accustomed to seeing in the regular season.

“I thought he stayed with it,” Quenneville said. “He had a key save right before our score. He made a big save with a guy in the slot. He seemed big and he got comfortable. I liked the response. That’s kind of the way he played all year.”

All you need to know about the Wild

April, 28, 2013
4/28/13
6:58
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Here's what you need to know about the Chicago Blackhawks' first-round opponent, the Minnesota Wild:
  • The Wild sputtered into the playoffs. They went 5-8-1 and were outscored 41-25 in April. They scored more than two goals just twice in the month, were shut out three times and allowed four or more goals five times. They fought off the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final playoff spot by winning two of their final three games. In between their two wins, the Wild lost 6-1 to the Edmonton Oilers.

  • The Wild haven't appeared in the playoffs since the 2007-08 season. This will be their fourth playoff appearance in franchise history. They haven't advanced past the first round since the 2002-03 season.

  • Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom has been as inconsistent as his team. He was pulled from three games in April. He's allowed three or more goals in seven of his last 14 games. But he also held the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche to one goal in two of his past three starts to help secure the playoff spot. He's been just as up-and-down against the Blackhawks this season. He replaced starting goaltender Josh Harding in the first period of the Wild's first meeting with the Blackhawks, and he stopped all 28 shots he faced in leading the Wild to a 3-2 shootout win. In their second game, Backstrom allowed four first-period goals and was pulled. In the final game of the series, he stopped 30 of 31 shots and the Wild lost, 1-0. He was 24-15-3 with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage on the season.

  • The Wild are in the middle of the pack in most categories. They rank tied for 22nd in goals per game at 2.46, tied for 15th in goals-against per game at 2.60, 16th in power-play percentage at 17.9 and 18th in penalty-kill percentage at 80.7.

    [+] EnlargeJonathan Toews
    Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews was second in the league in faceoffs won this season, a stat the Hawks need him to replicate in the playoffs.
  • One of the Wild's greatest strengths is their faceoff ability. They ranked third in the league with a 52.4 faceoff percentage. The Blackhawks and Wild were nearly even in faceoffs in their three games this season. The Blackhawks won 92 faceoffs, and the Wild won 89. Both teams have two players ranked among the top 25 in faceoff leaders.

  • The Wild's offseason acquisitions of forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter -- two players the Blackhawks went after -- paid off this season. Parise led the Wild with 18 goals and 38 points. Suter had a team-high 28 assists and was third on the team with 32 points. The two players weren't at their best in April, however, when they combined for four goals and eight assists, after combining for 10 goals and 22 assists in March.

  • Two of the three games between the Blackhawks and Wild this season were decided by one goal. The Blackhawks won 1-0 in regulation and the Wild won 3-2 in a shootout. Both teams excelled in close games all season. The Blackhawks were 19-3-5 with a .704 winning percentage in one-goal games, and the Wild were 13-5-3 with a .619 winning percentage. The Blackhawks ranked second in the league, and the Wild were sixth.

  • Rookies Charlie Coyle, a 21-year-old forward, and Jonas Brodin, a 19-year-old defenseman, have been key to the Wild's success this season. Coyle has 14 points on the season and had four goals and three assists in April. Brodin is in the running for the Calder Memorial Trophy. He has two goals, nine assists, a plus-three rating, 60 blocked shots and 18 takeaways on the season.

  • Forward Jason Pominville, who was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline, helped the Wild in their playoff push. He had four goals and five assists in 10 games since being acquired. He is considered day-to-day after taking an elbow in the face recently.

  • The Blackhawks and Wild made a trade in February 2010 that sent Kim Johnsson and the rights to Nick Leddy to the Blackhawks and defenseman Cam Barker to the Wild. Johnsson played eight games for the Blackhawks and was a free agent after the season. The 22-year-old Leddy has played in 176 games for the Blackhawks in the past three seasons. Barker finished the 2009-2010 season with the Wild and also played the 2010-2011 season with them before being bought out of his contract. He had 12 points in 71 games for the Wild.

Hawks missed, but so did Wings, Preds

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
9:49
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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[+] EnlargeScotty Bowman
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastStan Bowman aimed high, and even though he missed, at least the Red Wings didn't fatten up on free agents.
The Blackhawks shouldn't feel too bad in losing out in the Zach Parise/Ryan Suter sweepstakes. After all, the Nashville Predators lost a key player in the deal and the Detroit Red Wings weren't able to acquire either one of the stars. Suter would have at least been a nice replacement for Niklas Lidstrom, who is retiring.

So who's worse off? Not the Hawks. And they gain in the division by subtraction.

It's simply not fair to say "Stan Bowman can't get it done" solely based on the two players signing in Minnesota, where Parise is from. Other teams offered more money -- more money in terms of cap space than the Hawks even have -- and still Suter and Parise went to Minnesota. They wanted to play together and they wanted to play near home -- Suter is from Madison, Wisc. -- and they were able to accomplish both. It remains to be seen if the Hawks could have pulled off something similar, but massive changes to the roster would have been coming if the duo came to Chicago instead.

Looking at the glass half-full the Hawks still don't have to do much heavy lifting this summer if they choose not to or are unable to. As has been well documented they have a full squad, one which can compete, and if things like special teams and goalie play improve --- then they might actually surprise some fans. Those two aspects getting better isn't wishful thinking -- necessarily. There is no guarantee but the Hawks can make the case they can be better than a year ago by staying the course. It doesn't mean you don't try to improve and that's what the Hawks attempted in recent days, in some big ways.

Martin Brodeur was offered a two-year deal, Suter and Parise were extended huge offers, but nothing came to fruition. These were long shot plays -- did anyone really think Brodeur was going to leave New Jersey after two decades? The point is you turn over every stone and if you come up short you can at least say you gave it your best shot.

Now, it's not completely unfair to ask why Chicago isn't the destination the Hawks might think it should be. And did the recent front office dysfunction play a part or did whispers about Joel Quenneville's job security trickle down to Suter or Parise? That would be a problem. But there is no indication that was the case, not that those players would admit to such. As is, when you're committing to 13 years you're probably not thinking the same coach is going to be there the whole time anyway.

So at the end of your holiday, ask this question: Would you rather be the Hawks today or the Predators or Red Wings? The answer doesn't get you a Stanley Cup but at least it should make you feel better on a day when only one fan base is ecstatic while others are left wondering ‘now what?'

Wild lands Parise, Suter

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
8:56
AM CT
LeBrun By Pierre LeBrun
ESPNChicago.com
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Call it a Wild day for Minnesota: On Wednesday, the team landed not one but both of the NHL's top players available in free agency: forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.



Sources told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun that both deals are worth $98 million over 13 years.



"WE GOT 'EM!" the Wild announced on their Twitter account early Wednesday afternoon.

Read the entire story.
Zach Parise needed at least another night of sleep before picking a team to play for next season.

Parise said Tuesday that he hadn't made a decision and doesn't have a timetable for one soon after landing in his home state at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Read the entire story.

So far talks, not action for Blackhawks

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
10:41
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Day 2 of NHL free agency brought plenty of rumors but little action -- at least when it comes to the big names who might be switching teams. The Blackhawks didn’t sign any of them but -- save for New Jersey, who re-signed goalie Martin Brodeur -- neither did anyone else. Which means there remains a chance for the Hawks to make a big acquisition before it’s all said and done.

New Jersey star and captain Zach Parise is the latest name to be linked with the Hawks, but as of Monday he decided to hold off on making a decision on where he will play for the foreseeable future.

[+] EnlargeParise
Andy Marlin/NHLI/Getty ImagesHotly-pursued free agent Zach Parise is still weighing his options.
"I'm getting closer but haven't made a decision. I haven't set any deadlines,” he said in Toronto on Monday afternoon.

So the waiting game continues for him and the other prize unrestricted free agent, Ryan Suter. Between the Predators defenseman, Brodeur and now Parise, the Hawks have seemingly been linked to all the big names.
So what’s going on with the team from West Madison Street? Give them credit, they aren’t letting a player slip by them that could help improve their team. At least not without trying.

Suter was the common name linked to the Hawks as free agency opened but the mutual interest faded quickly, either because of contractual concerns or some other unknown reason. At the same time that Suter was being wooed by teams, Brodeur quickly took center stage. Just days earlier the all-time leader in wins declared he would become a free agent after 19 years in New Jersey.

The Hawks aren’t looking to replace Corey Crawford with just anyone or at any cost, but Brodeur would have fit what they want: a short-term upgrade. If Tim Thomas had not decided to take a year off, a play for him would not have been a surprise. But gambling on Roberto Luongo isn’t just a small risk and trading for, say, Jonathan Bernier of Los Angeles, doesn’t guarantee an upgrade. No, Crawford moves to the background or is sent packing only if the Hawks know they are getting better and the price is right. But when the Hawks offered two years, according to a source, the Devils stepped up and Brodeur opted to return to New Jersey for his 20th season.

(Read full post)

Parise: Getting closer, but no decision yet

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
5:09
PM CT
Strang By Katie Strang
ESPNChicago.com
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Coveted unrestricted free agent Zach Parise has yet to make a decision on where he will sign.

"I'm getting closer but haven't made a decision. I haven't set any deadlines," the former New Jersey Devil told reporters during an impromptu news conference outside of his agent's Toronto offices Monday night.

Read the entire story.

Source: Hawks in play for Devils' Parise

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
1:36
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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Zach Parise Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty ImagesZach Parise's leadership and offensive prowess make him a valuable commodity.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are believed to be one of two teams in play to sign free agent forward Zach Parise, according to a source, who said the forward may re-sign with the Devils.

Parise, 27, said later Monday that he has not made up his mind, and his agent said he narrowed his choices to a select few teams.

Goaltender Martin Brodeur also received interest from the Hawks before re-signing with the Devils on Monday.

Parise had 31 goals and 38 assists last season while leading the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals. He's a former 45-goal scorer who would instantly make the Hawks the most dangerous offensive team in the Western Conference. His leadership skills are also highly touted as the captain of the Devils in 2011-2012.

Quenneville opts for flexibility

November, 3, 2010
11/03/10
2:49
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks decided to dress eight defensemen for their game against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.

After sending down two forwards to the minors on Tuesday, it was about their only option. The Hawks only have 20 players on their roster. John Scott and Jordan Hendry will start at forward with Fernando Pisani as their center, but it sounds as if coach Joel Quenneville may not give the natural defensemen a regular shift every time out.

“We can fit forwards and play them a little bit more in those roles, too,” Quenneville said. “It gives you a lot of options and flexibility as well. It gives you an extra D-man or two if you need them at the other end, too. I’ve been in lineups where you have more than eight on defense more than once. It can work.”

Scott has played some games at forward already while Hendry had a handful at that position last season.

“It’s a little different look for me, but I’m excited about it,” Hendry said. “It should be fun. I played forward growing up, too, so it’s not completely different to me.”

Bickell returns: After being a healthy scratch the past two games, Bryan Bickell is back in the lineup. Quenneville wants the big body to be hard to play against. Bickell says he got the message. Which was? “To be more focused,” Bickell said Wednesday. “I started off well, but my focus wasn’t there. That’s why he took me out of the lineup, to put a little fire underneath me. I need to be physical. I’m a big guy.”

No excuses: To the Hawks credit they haven’t complained about the run of injuries that have occurred in the first month of the season. Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa are on the shelf, but other teams have had it worse. New Jersey announced on Tuesday they would miss their captain, Zach Parise, for three months. The Hawks played Los Angeles without Drew Doughty and Minnesota was missing two of their top six forwards when Chicago was there on Saturday.

“Timing is important, too,” the recently healed Brian Campbell said. “If you have a lot of injuries it’s tough to win a Stanley Cup, but if you get them early you can get them out of the way.”

So does Campbell expect a demoralized Devils team?

“Actually, they’re dangerous, right now,” Campbell said. “But if we take care of what we do and play our style, we’ll win. We want to control the game.”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
64 27 37 10
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 27
AssistsP. Kane 37
+/-J. Toews 23
GAAC. Crawford 2.29