Blackhawks

Blackhawks mixing up power play lines

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Blackhawks mixing up power play lines

The power-play combinations were different when the Chicago Blackhawks hit the ice on Tuesday morning. Different combinations put together in the hopes for different results.

The Blackhawks power play is struggling once again, so coach Joel Quenneville was switching up the units on Tuesday to try and spark it. The top unit was Andrew Brunette, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. The second unit featured Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy, Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland and rookie Jimmy Hayes.

Its another experiment, one the Blackhawks hope shake them from their 1-for-22 power play skid.

I think thereve been games where had chances and didnt score, and others where it hasnt been as good as it could be, defenseman Duncan Keith said. We had a good practice today on it. Both units looked good, so well give it our best (shot) next game.

For the most part, the Blackhawks have overcome their power-play issues lately. But last night it hurt them. They had three opportunities in the last 11 minutes of the game -- including a four-minute effort when Toews was high-sticked -- and came up empty. They were down just one goal on their final power-play attempt.

Marian Hossa said its sometimes been a mix of tough luck and poor planning.

I think some nights we had pretty good looks but the puck didnt go in, and on some nights we werent on the same page. We need to know what were going to do before we get on the ice, he said. Maybe an ugly goal gets us going again.

The Blackhawks will take any type of goal on that power play. They liked how the experiment was working on Tuesday -- the 6-foot-6 Hayes, who scored his first NHL goal on Monday, is a pretty good option in front of the net. But scoring them in practice is one thing. Getting them in a game is another.

Thats what you look for: just get one (goal) and you get more confidence, more puck awareness and patience. Suddenly everybody has more cohesiveness, coach Joel Quenneville said. But last night we miss an empty net or two and now it gets worse. You have to change it up when its not going well. Lets try to get a fresher look and maybe get one of those ugly ones and kick-start it.

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

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Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

Lance Bouma took his place at fourth-line left wing as the Blackhawks rolled their forward rushes on Tuesday morning. As the Blackhawks have tinkered with their trios, Bouma, whose final two seasons with the Calgary Flames were filled with uncertainty, has found a consistent role in this lineup.

“Obviously I was brought here for a reason,” Bouma said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in Calgary. To come here to Chicago and have that role, it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Blackhawks knew what they wanted from Bouma and his fellow fourth liners: some physical play, some energy and if there are any scoring opportunities, bonus. It’s a second chance for Bouma, whose contract was terminated by the Flames on June 30.

“I think it’s definitely a motivator knowing that you get in that situation where all of a sudden, ‘OK, I have to almost start over again and I have to prove to a new team that I belong in this league and I can play,’” coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “There are always circumstances where teams make decisions like that. We’ve been a part of it. And moving forward as a player, you’ve gotta look at it as a fresh opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get back to playing your game.”

After recording 16 goals and 18 assists in the 2014-15 season, Bouma signed a three-year, $6.6 million deal with the Flames. The next two seasons didn’t go as planned as Bouma dealt with injuries, inconsistent play and healthy scratches. So getting that call from the Blackhawks was a huge lift.

“I was just looking forward to a fresh start and something new,” he said. “I just was ready to come into camp and have a great season and it’s been great so far.”

[MORE: Eddie Olczyk expected to return to broadcasting booth this week

Tommy Wingels, who has centered the Blackhawks’ fourth line the last several games – and will again vs. St. Louis on Wednesday – said Bouma looks “refreshed” this season.

“Obviously whether it’s a team doesn’t want to bring you back or it’s a trade or buyout, there’s certainly something that deep down gets you going,” Wingels said. “I think it was a good summer for him mentally to come to a new organization, come to a new group of guys and re-establish his game. It’s tough when you’re with the same coaches, same team for so long; maybe what you do gets taken for granted. He looks good and he’s skating really well and I think he moves really well for a big man. He’s strong on the pucks and he’s a good asset for us.

Bouma isn’t here to be a top-six player. He’s not here to fulfill a contract that he no longer has. The Blackhawks needed depth, energy and a physical presence and in brining that, Bouma has earned steady work.  

“We knew the player coming in that we wanted him to play that style and he’s done a good job of it, too,” Quenneville said of Bouma. “So it’s something we were looking for in our needs and it fit perfectly."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle discuss Nick Schmaltz returning to the Blackhawks line-up on Wednesday night and which player is looking forward most to his return?

They also weigh in on Corey Crawford’s incredible start to the season and why he’s the major reason why the Hawks begin the week in first place in the Central.

They also discuss who is the biggest Hawks rivalry right now, which new defenseman has impressed the most and how is Connor Murphy dealing with being a healthy scratch at times this season?

Plus, they discuss someone other than Nick Schmaltz returning to work on Wednesday night.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: