Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Pre-Game Notes from Nashville

Hawk Talk: Pre-Game Notes from Nashville

Thursday, April 22, 2010
4:00 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

With the biggest game of the Chicago Blackhawks season looming, mere hours away, heres a snapshot of whats happening with the team, and the mood of some of the key players tonight:

Dirty Dozen: Just 12 Blackhawks skated today, along with goaltender Cristobal Huet: Kris Versteeg, Adam Burish, Brian Campbell, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Brent Sopel, Troy Brouwer, Colin Fraser, Nick Boynton, Tomas Kopecky and Bryan Bickell.

Vincent Van Go: Joel Quenneville was not on the ice to run the morning skate. Taking the lead role was skating coach Paul Vincent, known for running a tight ship and drilling players hard. Today was no different, as the 12 skaters ran a short but tough practice emphasizing stick-handling and footwork. Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti was also on the ice, working individual drills, such as feeding Boynton on some blue line slap-shot runs.

Howlin Burish: Burish hit the ice for warm-ups and immediately let out a loud howl.

Fourplay: Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz and assistant Peter Horachek were in the stands watching the Blackhawks practice, and Chicago wasnt giving anything away with regard to its lineup tonight. There were none of the standard extra skating drills for tonights scratches. Instead, Burish, Bickell, Brouwer and Fraser remained on the ice for front-of-net shooting drills against Huet.

It would appear, then, presuming Eager was excused from practice and will be active, that the final two forward spots are up for grabs among these four players. With all the hype of having Burish back and Bickell getting to contribute, it looks like Brouwer and Fraser are the scratches.

Two funny notes from this end-of-practice drill. First, Bickell kept getting pucks past Huet. Huet would slam his stick after each one, finally screaming out, F--- you, Bicks!

Afterward, Bickell told me that he seems to have a good record against Huet, with a big smile. On the flip side, Brouwer couldnt buy a goal, and on the very last shot of the drill, he broke through, raising his stick and shouting to celebrate.

Who Are You?: Trotz and Horachek left together and were talking about the Bon Jovi concert that took place at Bridgestone Arena last night. Trotz said he offered Quenneville a ticket, and that Q had refused, profusely. The two had a big laugh over Cool Hand Q at Bon Jovi. I told the two that Q is more a Who guy, and they said, Oh, yeah? So be prepared, that if theres a postseason rematch in 2011 and the Who have embarked on a 14th or 15th farewell tour, Qs got a line on some tix.

Finally, some post-practice quotes:

Bickell:

Its been an up-and-down season for me. Its been a good learning experience to be here with the team. Ive been learning a lot.

On Quenneville stating before the playoffs that Bickell will remain with the team throughout, active or not: That was nice of him to build me up. Its nice to hear a coach say things like that, and I want to give him my best game as a result.

Burish:

At the end of the day its about the bleeping guy across from you on the ice. He isnt going to help you.

Winning in the playoffs is about your will. If you out-will the guy across from you, youll be successful.

Winning isnt just about skating fast or making the pretty pass, its about chipping pucks in, getting traffic to the net. Playing a simple game.

Winning in the playoffs can be smacking the puck in off your butt. Those are the things that win games. Those little things are in here.

Phoenix has been playing like caged animals, crazy men, and look what theyve done.
We gotta find a way to snap Nashvilles momentum. We gotta find a way to take it back. We gotta squish their momentum.

Advice to Brian Campbell upon his return? Dont get in a fight.

Quenneville:

We have to throw that last game in the garbage can. Weve got to get back to some passion and emotion.

Were excited to play tonight. We expect to compete hard.

Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.

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

dylan_sikura_usa_today_3.jpg
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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