Blackhawks

Frolik scores, but Blackhawks Staal-ed in third

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Frolik scores, but Blackhawks Staal-ed in third

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Posted: 8:28 p.m. Updated: 9:34 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
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VIDEO: Coach Q defends Emery
VIDEO: Frolik feels strong
VIDEO: 'Funny' goals on Emery

PITTSBURGH -- Brandon Saad watched the CONSOL Energy Center video screen as it flashed some of his high-school highlights. The product of Gibsonia, about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh, Saad was greeted with great applause from the hometown fans.

A few seconds later, he was on the video board again after taking a penalty.

"Yeah, not the best play," Saad said with a laugh.

All kidding aside, the young Saad has impressed the Chicago Blackhawks in his first training camp. The team's second-round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Saad played 16 and a half minutes in the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Penguins on Thursday night. Coach Joel Quenneville has been happy with Saad this entire camp, and it continued on Thursday.

"He's had a real nice camp," Quenneville said. "We've liked him since Day One. In these games he looks like he belongs. His upside is great. The puck looks like it follows him around."

Saad had two solid scoring chances in the second period but came up empty. Nonetheless, his talent and work ethic have been evident all camp. Saad said he just recognizes he's got plenty of company in trying to garner notice.

"I'm just trying to work hard day in and day out because there are a lot of good players out there," he said.

READ: Modano an inspiration for current Hawks

Whether or not there's room for Saad on this year's team is uncertain. He's nevertheless making a statement, whether it's for this season or in the future. And he was able to do some of it in front of the home crowd.

"It's awesome to play in any NHL game," he said. "But to be back home makes it more exciting."

Frolik scores

Michael Frolik had the Blackhawks' lone goal on Thursday, as his solid camp continues. Frolik has said he started feeling more comfortable with the team late last spring. It showed in the postseason and has filtered through to camp.

"It's the first game (for me) and you have to get used to it a little bit," said Frolik, who had one of his old linemates with him on Thursday -- Bryan Bickell. "Physically I felt pretty good. My legs were there and I feel strong. As the games go on I'll feel better and better."

Emery evaluation

Although he allowed four goals on 19 shots on Thursday, Ray Emery said he felt better in this game than he did on Tuesday.
Ray Emery is unable to make the save on Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke. Emery stopped 15 of the 19 shots he faced. (US PRESSWIRE)
"Those are kind of funny goals going off shafts and stuff," he said. "I don't know how to play them different besides the last one. But you want to control rebounds when things like that happen."

Quenneville said it was hard to blame Emery for the third period.

"We had two empty side goals that we call cardinal sins. We don't want to give those up; those have to be cleared," he said. "They came at us a little bit in the third. We had some good opportunities, but I wasn't blaming the goalie."

Emery said he's feeling more comfortable as camp continues.

"I feel better, my hands are feeling better," he said. "It'd be nice to see it translate into a game here but you have to get the tough ones out of the way I guess."

Briefly

Quenneville said Corey Crawford should play all of Friday night's preseason home opener against the Washington Capitals.

WGN will stream the Blackhawks' Sept. 25 and 28 games against the Detroit Red Wings on wgnradio.com.

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

Blackhawks mailbag: Defensive challenges and happy campers

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks mailbag: Defensive challenges and happy campers

The Blackhawks entered this season with the same mantra they have countless others: get off to a good start and save yourself a point chase at the end of the season.

My first season on the beat was probably the Blackhawks’ best lesson lately on what happens when you’re scrambling late; they just about missed the playoffs, losing to Detroit in the regular-season finale and needing Minnesota to beat Dallas to get into the postseason. And while the overall results have been a mixed bag, their opening record (5-2-2) isn’t shabby.

Still, there are questions regarding where the Blackhawks are and where they’re heading. To that end (yeah, we’re finally getting to the point of this whole spiel), we bring you this week’s mailbag:

The Blackhawks’ happiness with Tanner Kero was partly because of Kero’s work last season. But in terms of comparing to other centers, Kero’s emergence had more to do with replacing Dennis Rasmussen than it did Marcus Kruger – Kero re-signed with the Blackhawks around the same time talks reportedly went awry between the team and Rasmussen. Anyway, back to Kero. I don’t think it’s so much what he’s not doing as what Tommy Wingels is doing in that fourth-line spot. The Blackhawks originally envisioned Wingels at wing but he has previous experience at center and his work there has been pretty good. Saturday night’s game certainly helps, be it for Wingels alone or keeping that fourth line together (he, John Hayden and Lance Bouma, who scored the game-winner). Don’t be surprised if there’s some rotation there, though.

Maybe, although either of those guys will likely still be rotating in/out with another player. Just depends on how much the Blackhawks want those guys playing constantly (I would guess that would be the case with rookie Matthew Highmore more than Hinostroza).

We all know this contract, all know how it hamstrings the Blackhawks for a while. But in the immediate future, what can you do? Fellow scribe Mark Lazerus has asked a few times about Seabrook’s place in the lineup and coach Joel Quenneville has demurred. Granted, we’re guessing general manager Stan Bowman doesn’t want Seabrook out of the lineup, either. Seabrook’s leadership skills are tremendous; to a man, the Blackhawks will say how vocal he is. His past work, especially in the playoffs, speaks for itself. It depends on how things progress as the season goes but I don’t foresee Seabrook coming out of the lineup right now. Speaking of Seabrook…

Highly doubt it. The asking price won’t be just one guy for another. And with any trade talk I remind everyone to see a player’s NMC status. Seabrook has a full no movement clause.

Nope, he’s not going anywhere, as the traveling media confirmed with Quenneville on Monday afternoon in Las Vegas. I had to be reminded that DeBrincat was nearing that deadline on Sunday, his status not coming up in conversations with Quenneville and Stan Bowman like it did when Brandon Saad made the team at 19. DeBrincat has made such an impression that it was going to take something extraordinary for the Blackhawks to reassign him. DeBrincat has found his place in the lineup and whether or not he’s been scoring he’s been good. So here, he remains.

You don’t trade him. The Blackhawks are where they are right now due in large part to their goaltending, especially Crawford. There have been, what, two games in which the Blackhawks dominated? So no, you don’t trade Crawford.

We’re quite a while from the trade deadline, so let’s tap the breaks on any talk about what the Blackhawks may do several months from now. As far as Murphy’s current status, no, I don’t believe his job is in jeopardy. Again, part of this is the eight-defensemen situation. But it’s also getting Murphy more ingrained in the system. I talked to Dave Tippett, Murphy’s former coach, a few weeks ago. He said, “we put him into situations he may not have been ready for [with Arizona], but he always continued to improve in those situations. He still has a lot of growing to do but he’s a very dedicated athlete and I think there’s a lot of upside there.” It’s easy to look at who the Blackhawks traded away for Murphy and Murphy’s contract and say, “yeah, he should be an everyday guy.” He should be at some point but considering what I mentioned above, I’m not surprised he isn’t right now. Speaking of defensemen rotating in and out of the lineup…

Yeah, I’m still not a big fan of the eight-defensemen set, for the reason you just mentioned. I wrote about the Blackhawks’ defensive juggling act on Sunday and, while I still think it’s tough to do I believe the Blackhawks will stay with it for a while. I list some reasons in Sunday’s story, which is linked above. So far (judging from outward appearances) the defensemen seem to be on board with the changes. I’m just curious to see how long they can keep the balance to where no one is sitting too long. That’s always the challenge.

Signing Cody Franson was part of the short-term plan regarding the long-term injured reserve funds. I think the Blackhawks just let things play out now for a while. You’re not going to make a move based on the first month of the season.

Yeah, someday I will stop writing about the power play’s woes but it won’t be today. I personally don’t think it’s the personnel. Whenever we talk about this it’s usually the same culprits: lack of movement, not enough shots and net-front traffic. I still say a strong penalty kill is more important and if the Blackhawks’ 5-on-5 scoring increases the power-play concerns fade. But it has cost them, so it’s certainly a concern.

I wouldn’t take the stern expressions as a sign of unhappiness. I’ve seen them plenty of times arriving at an arena looking like that; just focused before a game.

Going to go with a B-plus mainly because they came out of those first eight games with a pretty solid record. Granted, goaltending deserves a massive pat on the back for that. But it’s still early and I still figure the lines will get rolling at some point. Penalty kill has been very good and power play absolutely has to get better.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks find 'Energy Line' before they hit the Vegas Strip

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks find 'Energy Line' before they hit the Vegas Strip

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Tracey Myers discuss the "Energy Line" of Lance Bouma, Tommy Wingels and John Hayden.

The also look at how video replay hasn’t gone the Hawks' way this season and the dangerous hit that Ryan Hartman received from Zack Kassian.

They also preview the matchup with the surprise of the NHL, the Vegas Golden Knights, and the issues the expansion team has in net.

Take a listen below: