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Settling in: Frolik feeling at home with Hawks

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Settling in: Frolik feeling at home with Hawks

Monday, March 7, 2011
Posted: 6:00 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

SUNRISE, Fla. Michael Frolik was a bit surprised when the Florida Panthers traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks in early February.

The 23-year-old forward was one of many young up-and-coming players for the Panthers and was coming off his second consecutive 21-goal season. And theres no doubt he went through an adjustment period with his new team.

The first two games I was running around, I wasnt sure when I should go or not, Frolik said. Right now its much better.

And thats coming through on the score sheet, too.

Frolik, who has two goals and two assists in his last three games, will face his former team for the first time since that Feb. 9 deal when the Blackhawks take on the Panthers Tuesday night. For Frolik, who came here in exchange for Jack Skille, who will be out another 2-4 weeks with an ankle injury, itll be a little strange facing off against his old mates.

I liked to play with those guys and I had a great experience starting here, Frolik said following Mondays practice. But thats the way it goes. (Chicagos) a hockey city and the fans are great there. I like it. Things are better every day and I feel more comfortable.

Frolik said he was surprised when the trade came down. General manager Dale Tallon said the move was to change the dynamic of this team.

We had similar players to Michael, (Rostislav) Olesz and (Evgeny) Dadonov, Tallon said. We needed speed and physicality for our lineup. Were not at that place right now. So it was just a matter of getting a different dynamic to our lineup.

Frolik has settled in nicely with linemates Jake Dowell and Troy Brouwer. Scoring never hurts, especially for a guy who was in a 32-game goal slump before he scored last Wednesday against Calgary. But coach Joel Quenneville liked what Frolik was showing even before the points started coming again.

We talked about it before he started scoring, we thought his overall game was still what we were looking for, he said. Hes a threat around the net, hes dangerous and that line is dangerous a lot of nights. Our team game has improved; we four lines that can score and can make plays. He compliments that side of our game as well.
Tallon settled

Former Blackhawks and current Panthers general manager Dale Tallon doesnt mind the Florida life one bit.

I dont have a snowblower, I dont have to shovel the driveway and my car starts every morning, Tallon said with a laugh.

Tallon, who became the Panthers GM last May, is trying to build his new team in the same successful mode in which he constructed the Blackhawks. His name engraved on the Stanley Cup for his part in creating that 2009-10 winning squad, Tallon said hes now focused on the Panthers.

Once I drank out of the Cup it was closure and I moved on, Tallon said. Everythings great here. Its a great staff, everyones on the same page. After Mondays trade deadline, were looking forward to moving up the barometer.

The young Panthers have struggled again this season, as theyre currently 13th in the Eastern Conference. But Tallon said the potential is there.

There are some good assets here, prior to me being here. Now we just have to keep adding pieces to the puzzle, he said. Well use a similar plan to what we did in Chicago.

Tallon said he still keeps a close relationship with a lot of Blackhawks staff as well as the players well text each other and give each other shots. Its a good group of guys. But I have to cut the cord and move on.

He said he wont be going to the White House with the Blackhawks later this week to meet President Obama. But hes OK with that, too.

Im a Republican anyway, he said with a smile.
Briefly

Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson did not practice on Monday. Keith did not play the last 15 minutes of the Blackhawks 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs after blocking a shot off his right hand. Coach Joel Quenneville said both are expected to play Tuesday against the Panthers.

Goaltender Corey Crawford will get the nod on Tuesday. It will be his 12th consecutive start.

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday night:

1. Blackhawks squander two leads.

For the 13th time in their past 16 games, the Blackhawks scored the first goal of the game. They had won their previous three instances when doing so, but couldn't seal the deal this time and fell to 5-6-2 in those 13 games.

What strung even more is that the Blackhawks held two one-goal leads and couldn't hang on to either of them. They have the seventh-worst win percentage (.571) when scoring the first goal this season with a 20-10-5 record.

2. Vinnie Hinostroza continues to produce offensively.

If you're trying to look for a rare bright spot on the Blackhawks roster this season, here's one. Hinostroza registered a secondary assist on David Kampf's goal for his fifth point in six games, and was on the ice for 16 shot attempts for and seven against during 5-on-5 play for a team-leading shot attempt differential of plus-9 (also known as Corsi).

For the season, Hinostroza has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 32 games and he's doing so while averaging only 13:27 of ice time. His point-per-game average is up to 0.63, which is tied with Jonathan Toews for third on the team; only Patrick Kane (0.92) and Nick Schmaltz (0.71) are producing at a higher rate.

Hinostroza deserves more minutes, but at the same time his ability to produce on any of the four lines has allowed Joel Quenneville to put him in a bottom six role for balance.

"I like his speed," Quenneville said recently on why Hinostroza has been so effective. "I think with the puck, he's been good with it as well. More strength, on it, managing it, better decisions with it, and good plays off it. He definitely brings you energy and some speed, he can catch people with that quickness."

3. Ryan Hartman's benching.

Hartman was part of the fourth line that contributed to the Blackhawks' first goal of the game, and he was on his way to having a strong one. But that changed quickly after he took an ill-advised penalty in the first period.

Already leading 1-0, the Blackhawks had a 2-on-1 opportunity developing involving Hinostroza and David Kampf but Hartman was whistled for high-sticking at 17:06 behind the play. The Blue Jackets converted on the power play, and that was the end of Hartman's night.

He took only five shifts and finished with a season-low 4:16 of ice time, with Quenneville using it as an opportunity for a teaching moment.

4. Tomas Jurco building confidence back up.

It's been a tough season mentally for Jurco. He started the season with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs after failing to make the team out of camp, and compiled 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 36 games. 

It earned him a call-up on Jan. 8, with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman praising the way he progressed: "He looks like he's totally different, in terms of his composure and ability to make plays. That's why we brought him up here."

The problem? He was a healthy scratch for five straight games and went two weeks without seeing game action with the Blackhawks. Not exactly the best way to keep someone's confidence building. And since then, he's been fighting for a spot in the lineup.

For the last three games, Jurco has been given a shot on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane and he cashed in for his first goal of the season tonight and first since March 27, 2017. It's also the second straight game he's recorded a point.

While he may not be worth much if the Blackhawks were to deal him ahead of Monday's deadline, perhaps a change of scenery to a team that believes in him as a fit will bring out the best of his abilities. The Blackhawks tried and it just hasn't worked out.

5. Blue line observation.

This is more of a big-picture takeaway, but the Blackhawks have gotten only 20 goals from their defensemen this season. The Blue Jackets have gotten a combined 19 from just Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Last season the Blackhawks had 30 total.

The Blackhawks just haven't gotten the offensive production needed from their back end and it's so important as it helps alleviate some of the pressure off the forwards.

I asked Quenneville about this after Friday's game and here's what he had to say: "Whether you score or not, you need the D to be part of your attack, be it off the rush, in zone. But I think the whole game, the whole league is four-man rush game, five-man attacks, coming at you, night-in, night-out, wave after wave.

"But you need to get your D involved in your support on the attack and you need them on the offensive zone off the point. You need some shooters on the back end that can get them through as well. I think offensive production from the back end in today’s game really enhances your offense and your possession game."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.