Blackhawks

Hawks' Smith looking to build off good day

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Hawks' Smith looking to build off good day

Ben Smith stood at his locker on Monday, a smile on his face.

"I felt pretty good," said Smith. "It's just as it's been all along. I'm just seeing day in and day out how it's going."

Welcome to dealing with a concussion. Smith will take days like Monday, when he's able to skate and at least take part in the non-contact drills. He has yet to be cleared for contact but he's hoping the recovery continues.

"It's nice to get him on the ice," coach Joel Quenneville said. "If he practices a couple more days in a row then maybe we'll get an indication. Things have been better the last few days."

Things were up and down last week for Smith, who suffered his concussion on Sept. 28. He skated with the team early last week, then was off the ice by the end of it. The term "part of the process" was used to describe Smith's status heading into last weekend, which sounded like the forward had a setback.

"It's just part of the way things are with concussions. You never know," Smith said. "The best-case scenario is to be cautious."

Smith is handling the situation well, probably because he realizes he has no choice. There's no such thing as rushing back from these anymore, no just telling the coach, 'Hey, I'm fine,' and you're back in the lineup. Talking to the doctors, telling them how he feels, clearing the tests: that's the protocol, and Smith will take all the time he needs to get there.

Still, like any other player devoted to the game, Smith has a lot of pride. Here's a player who didn't miss one game in his college career. He admits he took pride in that. So sitting right now isn't fun.

"It's tough watching games. But you can't mess with your head," he said. "Arms and legs are different. You want to be 100 percent when you come back and that's what I'm working toward. I'm just trying to get back."

Smith's also talking plenty with Dave Bolland, who missed a month last spring with his own concussion. Bolland, who has talked several times about how hard those recovery weeks were, spoke with Smith when both did not travel to Dallas last week.

"He said, 'Hey, take your time, make sure you're 100 percent,'" Smith recalled. "You've seen how he's come back from these type of things. Obviously he's been doing the right things to be back. That's definitely someone I listen to."

Smith will heed all advice, diagnoses and test results. He has no choice. He just hopes to build off days like Monday.

Briefly

Corey Crawford was given a day off on Monday. Crawford has a slight groin injury but Quenneville said the goaltender should be back practicing on Tuesday. Niles resident Scotty Czarnik, who played club hockey at Arizona State but is transferring to Illinois State, was the Blackhawks' No. 2 goaltender at Monday's practice.

Daniel Carcillo skated on a line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa on Monday. Whether he's with that group long or not, Carcillo will make his regular-season Blackhawks debut on Thursday when they host the Winnipeg Jets.

Viktor Stalberg (left knee) skated by himself on Monday and could rejoin the Blackhawks practices Tuesday or Wednesday.

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

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.