Blackhawks

With Bolland out, Frolik is center of attention

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With Bolland out, Frolik is center of attention

Saturday, March 12, 2011Posted: 2:42 PM Updated 5:37 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. Its been a while since Michael Frolik has played center on a consistent basis.

WATCH: Frolik center of attention

Still, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired him from the Florida Panthers in early February because of his versatility among the forward spots. So when Dave Bolland was knocked out against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Frolik was thrown into the center fire.

He passed the test and hell be back there again on Sunday.

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Frolik will center Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa when the Blackhawks play the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon. For Frolik, whos been adjusting to a new team and a new system since the Feb. 9 trade, its just one more switch that hes willing to make.

Its really just a different mindset, he said. Its going to be different but I felt good out there in Tampa. You cant really think. You just have to play. I was with Hossa and Bicks, so thats a great line. Hopefully we can do a great job there.

The Blackhawks knew this was one asset they were getting with Frolik. A solid scorer with two 21-goal seasons prior to this one, Frolik has played predominantly wing over the last few seasons but adjusted well on Wedensday night. He also won five of eight faceoffs, a pleasant surprise for coach Joel Quenneville.

Over time were looking for consistency to see how he handles center. I think he did a nice job with what he was doing out there (against the Lightning), how he positioned himself. With faceoffs, that was a surprise how well he did. Sure every games different. Even today watching him in the faceoff circle, it looks like theres something there. Hopefully that line can take off a little bit.

Frolik and Hossa played a bit together when Frolik first came to the Blackhawks. They have talked about Froliks move to center and are on the same page.

Its just one more adjustment for Frolik. But for someone whos had to do plenty of it already, hes used to it.

Every games different, he said. I got a few practices in (at center). I feel like Im more comfortable right now and its getting better every game.

Good start

The Blackhawks want to get back to what worked for them in their eight-game winning streak. One of the good aspects was their starts, as the Blackhawks usually got in front of their opponents early. That has to return after looking up after the first period of their last two games.

With the slow starts, we cant put a finger on it, Troy Brouwer said. Even through the winning streak, we had a lot of games where we took one period off and games that shouldnt have been close were very close. We have to find a way to make sure were playing the entire game. First- second- or third-period lapses, weve been having them all as of late. We have to straighten out and make sure we find our game the entire game.
Brian Campbell lays on the ice after taking a big hit from Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin when the two teams met on March 14, 2010. Campbell suffered a broken collarbone and Ovechkin was suspended two games. Will there be payback on Sunday? (AP)
Injury updates

Defenseman Brian Campbell, who suffered a leg injury against Florida on Tuesday, will be a game-time decision for Sundays game. It was nearly a year ago when the Blackhawks last played the Capitals and Campbell took a nasty hit from Alexander Ovechkin. Campbell suffered a broken collarbone and Ovechkin was suspended two games.

But Quenneville said paybacks cant be part of the Blackhawks game on Sunday.

You have to be smart, you have to be disciplined and we have to have purpose with our play, he said. Last year was dealt with and we have to control what we can control.

Meanwhile, Bolland (concussion) will be out Sunday after taking an elbow to the head against the Lightning on Wednesday. Coach Joel Quenneville said theyre seeing a little progress with Bolland; hes still listed as day to day.

Defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith, both nursing hand injuries, will play Sunday. Corey Crawford will get the start in goal.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

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

1. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

There hasn't been a more dynamic duo in the NHL so far this season than Kucherov and Stamkos, who have combined for 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) through 20 games, and sit first and second in the scoring race.

They've each recorded a point in every game except three — which coincidentally have been the same games — and they've lost all three of those contests. Kucherov has also scored a goal in 15 of 20 games this season. That's absurd when you consider he's scoring on a consistent basis; it's not like they're coming in spurts.

To put all that into perspective, he reached the 17-goal mark in his 36th game last year and still finished second in the league with 40 goals. He hit the 17-goal mark in 16 fewer games this season. How many can he realistically finish with? 60?

2. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Tampa Bay knows how dangerous Chicago's dynamic duo can be as well, as evidenced in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks' superstars know how to get up for a big game.

In 13 career regular-season games against the Lightning, Kane has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists). Toews has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 14 games.

They're both producing at or above a point-per-game pace, and they're going to need more of that against this powerhouse Lightning team.

3. Something's gotta give.

Tampa Bay's offensive prowess is off the charts up and down the lineup. It has four lines that can come at you at waves, and a strong, active blue line led by potential Norris Trophy finalist Viktor Hedman and Calder Trophy candidate Mikhail Sergachev.

Although Chicago allows the fourth-most shots per game (34.0), it actually hasn't been bad at preventing goals — a large reason for that is Corey Crawford. 

The Lightning rank first in goals per game (3.95) and first in power play percentage (28.0) while the Blackhawks rank sixth in goals against per game (2.65) and four in penalty kill percentage (84.9).

Who's going to crack first?

Artem Anisimov keeps his vow, dons a mustache and raises his productivity in November

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USA TODAY

Artem Anisimov keeps his vow, dons a mustache and raises his productivity in November

Artem Anisimov wasn’t happy with his October.

The Blackhawks center struggled the first month of the season. Maybe it was adjusting to new line mates after being with the same two for two seasons. Maybe it was just a slow start. Maybe it was more than that. Regardless, Anisimov was frustrated. So as October turned to November, Anisimov told Patrick Sharp that he was going to get back on track.

“He’s scoring lots of goals and he said he was going to in the month of November,” Sharp recalled. “So he’s backing it up.”

Anisimov is doing that, recording five goals in his last three games including a hat trick against his former team, the New York Rangers, on Wednesday. Since November’s start, Anisimov has seven goals.

“My start of the season was not great,” Anisimov said. “But I keep working hard and be focused and say, ‘OK, November. I’m going to step up in November and forward.’”

When told of Anisimov’s prediction to Sharp, coach Joel Quenneville said, “well, now he set a precedent. We’ll have to look for it every month now.

“Quite a standard he was looking to achieve and got off to a great start here,” Quenneville said. “When Arty’s at the net he makes good plays, takes it to the net, draws some traffic to him and opens up other lanes behind him. I still think he has a purpose defensively, which he can add to that line.”

Anisimov’s resurgence coincides with the Blackhawks doing the same thing; after an up-and-down start, both are finding their rhythm again. For the Blackhawks it could be finding some line chemistry. For Anisimov it might be the same thing; he and Kane have been back together since Nov. 12, and those two and Nick Schmaltz have combined for a dynamic second line.

Or is it that mustache that Anisimov’s growing for Movember?

“I thought when you were saying what you were saying (about Anisimov’s vow), he made that statement when he got Kaner back on his line. But I think it was right when he shaved his beard into a mustache. That’s when he took off,” Jonathan Toews said with a laugh. “So that’s the biggest correlation right there.”

OK, teaming up with Kane again probably looms larger. The two have had great chemistry dating back to the 2015-16 season, when they first teamed with Artemi Panarin. Kane’s puck possession helps free Anisimov up to do his work at the net, and he’s been capitalizing there.

“He’s had a great month. He’s just one of those guys who gets to the front of the net and finds ways to be productive,” Kane said. “Maybe seven or eight games ago people were talking about how he was struggling and now he’s having a great start to the season. It shows how a few games can change that but he’s been great for us, not only scoring a lot of goals but a lot of big goals to get some wins.”

Still, hockey players are a superstitious lot. Players have ribbed Anisimov about the mustache — “I asked him to serve me a sparkling water on the airplane because he looks like a waiter in France or something,” Sharp said. But considering Anisimov’s mustache and the points sprouted at the same time, they’re now imploring Anisimov to keep it.

“Yep,” Anisimov said with a grin. “That’s true.”