Blackhawks

Blackhawks Notes: Niemi gives credit to Huet

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Blackhawks Notes: Niemi gives credit to Huet

Wednesday, June 2, 2010
6:28 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

PHILADELPHIA In the excitement of a nail-biting third period and the euphoria of their Chicago Blackhawks two-game lead in the Stanley Cup Finals, Hawks fans can be excused if they missed a touching moment immediately after the game.

Chris Pronger stole the game puck, Ben Eager barked at him...

No, no, not that postgame moment. It was the sight of Cristobal Huet sprinting off the bench to congratulate his understudy, Antti Niemi, on the stirring win.

In all the wrasslin, title beltin, BHTVing antics surrounding these young and exciting Blackhawks, the camaraderie and love in the dressing room is too easily overlooked.

Between the teams two goaliesthemselves members of the most unique, pressure-packed and odd fraternity in all of sportsthe bond runs deeper, a brotherhood more than most.

Everywhere Ive been, Ive had a good relationship with the other goalie on the roster, Huet said after the Blackhawks morning skate on Wednesday. Goalies speak the same tongue; Antti speaks the same language as me.

Huet was displaced as Chicagos starter prior to the Olympic break and could never seize the job back from Niemi. Ironically, the Blackhawks 3-2 loss to the Flyers at Wachovia Center on March 13 was his last strong start for Chicago. Huet stopped 31 shots and was betrayed by defensive breakdowns late, particularly on a horrid goal by Pronger with less than three seconds left to win in which Brent Seabrook left the blue line backdoor wide open.

Huet made only one more start, and has just two appearances, since.

I havent played great in the net this season, Huet said with typical candor. The way hes played, what hes done this season, makes me feel better.

For his part, Niemi credits Huet for helping him more than any other Blackhawk aside from goaltending coach Stephane Waite, and perhaps coach Joel Quenneville for having faith in him in the first place.

Huey has been like a teacher to me, Niemi says. I cant even list everything he has done for me.

Niemi, who with 14 wins against just four losses is the winningest goaltender in Blackhawks postseason history, earns respect from Huet for one reason thats almost too simple to mention: a short memory.

He shrugs everything off, remains the same, game after game, the veteran said. Hes remarkable in that way.

Niemi doesnt deny it. Perhaps thats why I am doing so well in my first postseason. When you are just starting out, you maybe dont know what youre supposed to be scared of, or about the pressure of playoffs. My focus is more narrow because Im unaware of these extra pressures.

Tallon at Finals
Dale Tallon will be in the house for Games 3 and 4 in Philadelphia. Count Blackhawks center Dave Bolland as one Blackhawk who was amped to see the architect of this Blackhawks teamnow GM of the Florida Panthers.

It will be great to see him, Bolland said with uncommon elucidation and excitement.

Steeger Bits
One of the Blackhawks most excitable and entertaining skaters, forward Kris Versteeg, weighed in on the Pronger Puckgate on Wednesday.

I have no idea what he was doing with the pucks, he said, with his Dennis the Menace grin. Maybe its just something he does.

The Soupy Treatment
Is Blackhawks forward and Game 2 hero Eager worried that hell have boos rain down on him every time he touches the puck, like defenseman Brian Campbell did in San Jose from the puzzlingly embittered Sharks fans?

Nah, scoffed the wannabe lumberjack. I dont touch the puck that much. If Philly fans wait for possession to boo me, they wont get their moneys worth.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com'sBlackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter forup-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: