Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Fighting through Flu-bruary

386319.jpg

Hawk Talk: Fighting through Flu-bruary

Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011Posted: 4:20 PM

By: Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Jake Dowells done with his bout with the flu, and Joel Quennevilles optimistic the same can be said of Patrick Kane in time for Wednesdays opener of a crucial three-game homestand.

Kane missed a second straight day of practice with apparently the same bug thats bitten Corey Crawford, Fernando Pisani and Marian Hossa over the past couple of months. It comes as Kane was starting to heat up, with four goals and seven points over the previous four games (including being held off the scoresheet Saturday night against the Coyotes).

With Kane out, Viktor Stalberg moved up in practice Tuesday to share line time with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. While Toews, Kane and Sharp have provided the expected production since Quenneville put them together in Edmonton, the other lines, five-on-five, have sputtered. Thats why he has high hopes for the trio of Dave Bolland, Hossa and Michael Frolik. Theres potential for them to jump-start each other offensively, with Bolland being the most productive of the three lately, despite enduring a three-game point drought sandwiched between 10 over the previous nine games and a pair of power play assists Saturday.

We want to get the best from everybody, Quenneville said after Tuesdays practice. Fro, Bolly, Hoss. All three have the potential to make a real nice line for us. We need that group to be effective and hopefully they can all max-out for us.

Frolik seems really skilled and sees the ice well, according to Hossa. Hopefully, we can get things going. We need it, especially five-on-five goals.

A familiarity between Frolik and Bolland comes from the YoungStars Game at the 2009 All-Star Weekend in Montreal, when they opposed each other, aside from the two meetings between the Hawks and Florida Panthers some nine months later in Helsinki. Froliks now in a 25-game goal drought, while Hossas lit it up just four times in his last 24 games. Each desperately needs a spark from which their team would greatly benefit.

Hes an incredible player and hes done so many things here, Frolik says of his fellow eastern European. Its so much of an experience to play with him, especially for me to play on the same line.

Seven of the next eight games are against Western Conference teams in the same playoff dogfight. After an Edmonton paper last week hinted the defending champs have spent all season talking the talk but not walking the walk, the right things continue to be said in the locker room now that theyre back home, looking to improve on a 16-13 record. It starts with the team that handed them that 13th loss in their last home game three weeks ago, the Minnesota Wild.

Brent Seabrook: Yknow its one of those games thats a must-win. Weve got to come out, have a really good start to that game, then put in a full 60 minutes.

Hossa: The race is tight and we can climb up, but we need, from these games, two points. Thats the only way were going to climb up and it starts tomorrow.

Bryan Bickell: Weve gotta come after em hard and quick. We need the two points to at least get going on this homestand.

Quenneville: A lot of teams have had their runs and put us in a spot now where we have to do something about it. Were looking for our own run ourselves to put us in a spot we really want to be.
Other Stuff

Besides Kane, the only practice absentees were Fernando Pisani and Ryan Johnson. Theres been no update on their progress from injuries sustained Friday in Dallas.

Corey Crawford makes his second straight start in net. Four even-strength shots got past him versus the Wild in the final game before the All-Star Break.

Frolik had never been to Chicago before coming back with the team from Phoenix, so Wednesday will be his first United Center experience.

They say its an incredible atmosphere and a great hockey town, so I cant wait for that, he said.

The Wild have won 9 of their previous 11 heading into Tuesday nights home game against league-leading Vancouver. Both losses during the run have been by one goal. John Madden scored the deciding goal (one in the ninth round of a shootout) in back-to-back wins last week.

Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.

Welcome back: Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk's 'best medicine'

Welcome back: Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk's 'best medicine'

ST. LOUIS – Eddie Olczyk’s morning at Scottrade Center was full of hugs and handshakes, of questions and encouraging words, of smiles and even some tears.

It was a busy morning but a good one for Olczyk, who Wednesday night will do his first hockey broadcast since being diagnosed with colon cancer in August. For the first time in a while, Olczyk felt like himself.

“It feels normal. It feels comfortable,” said Olczyk, who will be alongside Doc Emrick when the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues. “I just feel invigorated. Seeing a lot of familiar faces, guys busting chops and a lot of well wishes.”

Olczyk went through his usual game-day routine, including quick chats with Blackhawks players following skate. On Wednesday those talks were that much more special, for both sides.

“Great to see him,” said Ryan Hartman. “When I first saw I was pretty excited to see him back. It’s definitely a presence you know when you’re watching games, that voice you heard growing up. He looks good, looks healthy. He’s in a battle but he looks really good.”

Olczyk will also be in the booth on Thursday night when the Blackhawks host the Edmonton Oilers. Past that, he’ll play it by ear. He’s talked to NBC and Blackhawks president John McDonough, who Olczyk said gave him an “open canvas” in terms of scheduling. If Olczyk feels good on Saturday and the Blackhawks play on Sunday, he’ll try to get back in the booth.

“We think about him every day and we’ve had the pleasure of having him come by a couple of times. Having him be here today for a road game is great to know,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But he has a tough battle ahead of him and he’s doing everything he can to fight it. We support him every single day.”

Olczyk started chemotherapy treatments in September and he has his good and bad days. Those will continue for a while. So will his fight to completely beat this. But for at least the next two nights Olczyk gets to return to a normal routine, and that’s the perfect panacea for a trying time.

“I’m overwhelmed with everybody,” Olczyk said. “But this is the best medicine I’ve had in a long time.”

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

bouma.jpg
USA TODAY

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."