Blackhawks

Dennis Rasmussen 'fired up' after leaving Blackhawks for new role with Ducks

Dennis Rasmussen 'fired up' after leaving Blackhawks for new role with Ducks

Dennis Rasmussen wasn’t sweating free agency. The Swedish forward, who turned 27 on Monday, had heard from his agent that there were some opportunities there. Between that news and his first trip to Wimbledon, Rasmussen was enjoying his summer.

On Friday he got a new deal with his new team, a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks. And as much as Rasmussen enjoyed his time with the Blackhawks, he’s ready to see what he can bring out west.

“I got some calls from my agent; he said there were a couple of possibilities, some interest from other teams. But after talking I really got fired up for the Ducks,” Rasmussen said in a phone interview on Saturday afternoon. “I’m really happy about it. I’m fired up to start right away.”

As the summer progressed all signs pointed to the Blackhawks extending Rasmussen a qualifying offer; but as the deadline for doing so approached, the Blackhawks didn’t. Multiple reports said Rasmussen turned down an extension in March; he was a healthy scratch in seven of eight games from March 4-21. Rasmussen said, “with respect to Chicago and my agent,” that he didn’t want to discuss that.

“I have nothing bad to say about Chicago,” he said. “It was great to play there, the coaching staff, the organization, everything. It was really good for me and I’m happy with the opportunity I got there.”

[MORE: Moving forward, who are the Blackhawks’ center options?]

The Blackhawks lose one more potential center with Rasmussen gone. As for Rasmussen, he’s eager to see what he can do with the Ducks. He doesn’t expect the transition to be too difficult. Rasmussen knows a few players there already, including forward Jakob Silfverberg.

“Silfverberg and a few other Swedes are probably going to take care of me,” he said. “Of course it helps a lot. Especially off the ice, it’s really helpful for someone who speaks your own language and know how it works.”

While he’s mainly known for his two-way game in the NHL, Rasmussen would like to have the production he did back home. He had 16 goals and 24 assists in his final season with the Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League.

“I feel I have more to give on the offensive side,” he said. “I played better offensively in Sweden, and that’s something I hope I can bring in the NHL, too.”

Rasmussen will likely head to California in late August. He’s grateful for the time he had with the Blackhawks but he’s ready to see what he can do in Anaheim.

“My biggest dream was to play in the NHL, and I got the opportunity in Chicago to do that. There are a lot of things I learned [with the Blackhawks] and thankful for that,” he said. “At the same time, I’m really pumped to go to Anaheim and excited about the opportunity.”

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night:
 
1. Surviving a crazy first period.

The Blackhawks committed four penalties in the opening frame within a 2:18 span, and escaped unscathed from it despite a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities for the Coyotes.

Of course, the only goal allowed in the period came from a fluke deflection off Jordan Oesterle's stick and slipped underneath Corey Crawford's five-hole.

Joel Quenneville likes to say the team that takes advantage of their 5-on-3 opportunities has a pretty good chance to win the game. It applied in this case, with the Blackhawks coming out victorious after surviving that stretch.

2. Power play comes alive early.

The Blackhawks got off on the right foot in an area that has been an issue for them this season, capitalizing on their first power play of the game 24 seconds into it when Richard Panik redirected a Jonathan Toews shot that tricked past Louis Domingue.

Good thing too, because it was the only man advantage they'd get. Well, excluding the power play they received with 17 seconds left in regulation when the game was already decided. 
 
3. Another controversial review in Arizona.

What's with it with controversial reviews in Arizona and the Blackhawks being on the wrong end of the call?

The Blackhawks appeared to have taken a 3-1 lead when Tommy Wingels converted on a penalty shot, but it was overturned after officials reviewed it and determined the Coyotes netminder got a stick on Wingels' initial shot. Replays didn't exactly show conclusive evidence, but the NHL released a statement proving otherwise:

Video review determined that Wingels shot the puck into the net after Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue made contact with the puck. According to Rule 24.2, "No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind."

Shortly after, the Coyotes scored in the final minutes of the period to even up the score at 2-2 in a big turn of events at the time.
 
4. ... But puck don't lie.

The overturned penalty shot didn't matter in the end though, because the Blackhawks came away with the victory and Wingels ended up getting his first goal after all on an empty netter that iced the game.

It was Wingels' first goal as a member of his hometown team, and it was well deserved for a guy who was part of the fourth line that turned in arguably their best performance of the season.
 
5. Lance Bouma rewarded with game-winning goal.

Speaking of which, it was fitting that Bouma scored the game winner with 4:24 left in the third period because that trio of Bouma, Wingels and John Hayden was around the net for the majority of the night.

They combined for two goals and two assists, had eight attempts shot attempts (five on goal), eight of the team's 16 hits and four blocked shots.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.