- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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He may not say it but Tomas Kopecky must have been as surprised as anyone when coach Joel Quenneville announced new line combinations in meetings before the Chicago Blackhawks took on the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
“We had a meeting in St. Louis and [Quenneville] wrote down the lines and that’s when I realized I was going to be playing with Marian and [Dave Bolland]. Actually, I was hoping [to be on a line with Hossa] the whole year. Now the chance came and now I have to grab it and don’t let it go.”
It’s a far cry from riding the bench, which Kopecky did just the night before -- or from playing on the fourth line, which he’s done most of the season. Kopecky thinks his line played well in the Hawks own end on Saturday and he knows what his role will be on it.
“The last game we played really good defensively,” Kopecky said. “We didn’t give them any chances against. We’ll get our chances offensively. Hossa is a top player in the NHL and [Bolland] is a great passer. My job is to get the puck to Hossa or Bolly and go to the net. Every time you get them the puck something good is going to happen, and driving the net is what I need to do.”
One advantage the two Olympians have playing on the same line is using their native tongue when they need to. The only problem? Dave Bolland doesn’t know any Slovak.
“Yeah, already, sometimes they start talking Slovak and you don’t know what to say [back] so I figure it’s between them. As long as they’re not talking about me,” Bolland joked.
Bolland is getting used to playing with a talent like Hossa. While different than his linemate of last year, Martin Havlat, their similarities are in their world-class talent.
“From playing with Havlat to Hossa is a bit of a difference,” Bolland said. “There’s little things you have to get used to. Every game you start to find out where he is and where to get him the puck. That [part] is the same as Havlat last year. The first few games [with Havlat] I was stunned. He’s everywhere, he’s so quick. With Hossa it’s a little different, but we’re getting there.”
Kane on Caps: Patrick Kane watched the Washington Capitals thrilling come-from-behind win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. It was Washington’s 14th consecutive victory. He’s impressed by the Capitals, though knows that streak hasn’t involved much travel.
“Those Eastern Conference teams get a little bit of an advantage,” Kane said. “They make one trip west a season and then play in the same time zone most of the year. But I’d be surprised if Washington didn’t make it [to the finals] this year. They are head and shoulders above teams in the East.”
As for Alex Ovechkin's game, Kane said, “I like [Ilya] Kovalchuck’s style more, but at the same time Alex Ovechkin is the best player in the league. Anybody would tell you that.”
Antti Niemi will start a second consecutive game on Tuesday against Dallas.
Ben Eager missed practice with a lower body injury that kept him out of the Blues game on Saturday. Joel Quenneville also missed practice. He and Stan Bowman attended the wake of Brendan Burke, who was killed late last week in a car accident. Brendan is the son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke.
Sources say there are “plenty” of teams calling Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray inquiring about his defensemen. The Daily Herald reported on Sunday the Hawks may be interested in re-acquiring James Wisniewski, who they traded to the Ducks last season for center Sammy Paulson. Sources confirm the Ducks are unsure if they will be able to re-sign Wisniewski. He is set to become a restricted free-agent and could be the depth guy the Hawks are looking for if his teammate, Scott Niedermayer, is unavailable for a bigger trade.