Blackhawks

CSN Sets Record

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CSN Sets Record

Monday, April 19, 2010
8:31 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Game 1 lived up to the concerns about this matchup I wrote about last week.

Game 2 lived up to my belief the Blackhawks will win this series.

But just as the Hawks and their Nation had to tell themselves after Friday night it was just one game, they must also keep that perspective after two games. It's the Hawks' job to do here in Music City in either Game 3 or 4 what those pesky Preds managed to do in the Windy City opener.

Sunday night's game reminded me of another recent 2-0 game viewed by many as "must win." Back on March 23rd, after losing a third period lead and fallng in Phoenix three nights earlier, they rematched with the 'Yotes at the UC and locked down to halt their nine-game winning streak and open up a four-point lead on the hard-charging Dogs in another Antti Niemi shutout.

Speaking of whom...

Is it possible to be any more impressed with how the two playoff rookies in the net have performed? The Twin Finns have each allowed two goals over two games. The NHL playoff stats through the weekend listed Niemi and Rinne as 1-2 in both goals-against average and save percentage. Our soft-spoken shy guy has mental toughness that seems to grow every game, bouncing back after Friday's funky game-tying goal, and the winner many argue wasn't really his fault. He keeps to himself, but after sharing with reporters last week he isn't into media or public opinion, he's probably pretty smart, too.

His counterpart is either on an unbelievable roll, or he's turning into one of the best in the West. His reflexes and glove hand for a guy who's 6'5 are freaky fast. I've written before how I'm not a card-carrying member of the Luongo and Nabokov Fan Clubs. If I had a second choice right now in the conference after Ilya Bryzgalov, I might just take Rinne. Quick and Anderson have joined Niemi and Rinne in not letting any first-time post-season jitters interfere with their performances. Like his teammates around him, Rinne gets to settle in to a more comfortable crease at Bridgestone Arena for 3 and 4. The way he's performed so far, I wouldn't mind seeing the Hawks try to make him a little uncomfortable - not just with traffic, but as Joel Quenneville calls it, a little "abrasiveness" to see if it gets him off his game. Maybe see Big Buff down thereat least on the power play to reprise the role he so effectively filled last season. Don't be surprised if the Preds try that strategy out on Niemi, too.

Lost in some of the relief over the Game 2 win was the fact that Nashville's leading sniper didn't play, and was pretty invisible in Game 1. 30-goal scorer Patric Hornqvist is still working through the effects of one of teammate Shea Weber's triple-digit-speed slappers into his his chest a couple of weeks ago. If his health returns, and his scoring touch follows before it's too late, he's a key factor the Hawks must account for defensively. Just one of his goals came versus the Hawks in the season series, but 18 of his 30 came after their sixth and final meeting.

Got lots of other stuff I'd love to write about but time for me to dash as fast as I can to the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Dollywood.

Yee-hah.

Blackhawks’ depth could be key as roster becomes clearer

Blackhawks’ depth could be key as roster becomes clearer

Jeremy Colliton has tried to dismiss any notion that forward lines in preseason games or practice groups in training camp give any indication as to what the Blackhawks might look like come October 4 in Prague. But with only two preseason games remaining – one of which could very well be the Rockford IceHogs against the Boston Bruins – it would be quite a shock to see the lines shuffled much before the team heads overseas.

“To me, it’s becoming more clear what our lineup is going to look like,” Colliton said after a 3-2 overtime win over an abbreviated Bruins squad on Saturday. “I think we’re getting what we want out of training camp here.”

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews look like a safe bet to once again start the season on the top line, with Alexander Nylander getting the first look on the left wing. On the second line, the combination of Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat look like they will have Andrew Shaw pestering opponents and opening up some ice for them.

Where the Blackhawks hope to see a major improvement is in the bottom six, where the team struggled to generate offense last season. Stan Bowman’s additions this summer seem to have the Blackhawks in much better position to not have to rely so heavily on their top two lines or top power play unit.

The third line looks fairly set with Brandon Saad on the left wing and Dominik Kubalik on the right wing. David Kampf looks like the favorite to center that line, but the Blackhawks did give Anton Wedin a look there against the Bruins, and he delivered a primary assist on Saad’s goal.

“I think he plays with a lot of energy and he’s a conscientious player. I think he works hard. Both sides of the puck, he’s got a little bit of skill. He’s a strong skater,” Colliton said of Wedin. “I thought he did well, I liked that line. I thought Saad was excellent.”

The fourth line of Drake Caggiula, Ryan Carpenter and Zack Smith earned high praise as well.

“I thought that Carpenter line with Smith and Caggiula was really good, really effective for us,” Kane said. “I think that’s something we might have been missing a little bit last year. Good to see them going, seems like that could be a fun line to watch.”

When the Blackhawks’ season ended this past April, Colliton said he wanted to rely less on Kane and use his star in a more “targeted” way. If the third and fourth lines can generate some scoring, or at the very least some offensive zone time, it could go a long way in getting the Blackhawks into a position to confidently roll four lines.

“We have so much more depth, definitely. There’s no question,” Colliton said. “To have the opportunity to move guys up at times, they should be fresh and ready to make a difference further up the lineup. We have competition, which I think is a good formula for us.”

So, while Colliton may try to play coy on forward lines and defense pairings, Kane has much less to hide.

“That was pretty much our lineup, or close to our lineup, so we’re trying to identify the way we want to play,” Kane said. “Obviously, I think we had some spurts tonight where we did that well and some other times where we struggled a little bit. It’s early in the season, we’re still trying to figure it out.”

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Blackhawks announce second round of roster cuts

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USA Today

Blackhawks announce second round of roster cuts

After making a first wave of roster cuts to pare their roster down from 55 to 49, the Blackhawks announced a more significant second round Saturday afternoon.

Per the team, forwards Dylan Sikura, Matthew Highmore, Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev, Mikael Hakkarainen, Alexandre Fortin, Reese Johnson, MacKenzie Entwistle, defensemen Nicolas Beaudin, Joni Tuulola, Lucas Carlsson and goaltender Matt Tomkins have all been assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The Blackhawks roster now consists of 33 players: 18 forwards, 11 defensemen and four goaltenders. 

The news comes just hours before the Blackhawks square off with the Bruins in the team's fourth game of the preseason Saturday night.

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