Blackhawks

Teammates helping acclimate Frolik to center

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Teammates helping acclimate Frolik to center

Friday, March 25, 2011Posted: 4:20 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Michael Frolik needed some faceoff advice.

The Blackhawks center, who hadnt played that spot in quite a while, had taken some faceoffs in past seasons with the Florida Panthers but not many. So Frolik talked with Ryan Johnson, who has a team-best 62.7 faceoff win percentage.

Stay low and shorten up his movement, Johnson said he told Frolik. Sometimes guys get these big swooping moves where you lose your balance, lose your power. Its something I take a lot of pride in them. I dont want to overwhelm him, but little things help.

Apparently it did.

Frolik, who won seven of 11 draws against his former team on Wednesday, is currently winning 45.3 percent of his faceoffs. But thats just been one adjustment that Frolik has had to make with moving back to center. But be it staying strong defensively, taking on more responsibility or adapting to linemates, Froliks done just fine.

He accepted the role and hes doing pretty well, said linemate Tomas Kopecky, whos done the wing-to-center move himself before. It was the same for me when I moved to center. Its a little harder on the draw. But hes a pretty strong kid. You dont realize how strong he is on the stick. He can win a lot of good draws.

Frolik said hes learned plenty from his new teammates but especially appreciated Johnsons faceoff advice.

I think hes one of the best in the league, Frolik said. He told me how to hold the stick a little bit and to sit low and then stop. That helped me a lot. Hes a good guy at that.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Froliks entire game has developed well with the Blackhawks.

Hes getting more familiar with his teammates and systems and more comfortable with the puck as well, he said. He, Hossa and Kopey have been effective. Defensively the one thing that he brings is responsibility. When you have a guy in the middle that knows his way around both ends, its helpful.

It doesnt hurt that his linemates are Kopecky and Marian Hossa; the three share a common language that has translated to a comfortable partnership on the ice. The trio combined for a pretty goal on Wednesday night, a Hossa-to-Frolik-to-Kopecky connection that elicited a wow from Kopecky afterward.

Froliks adjusting just fine to new responsibilities. He continues to try and get better at each one of them.

Its always nice when you can play like that, hopefully its not going to stop and were going to keep playing well, Frolik said. Weve had some chances before but we just couldnt score. Hopefully itll turn.

Campbell adapting

Defenseman Brian Campbell said earlier this week that he would have to deal with his left foot injury and he reiterated that on Friday. Campbell played more than 20 minutes against Florida on Wednesday but said the injury does affect him.

It kind of affects my skating a little bit. Thats the frustrating part, he said. At different times, it gets to be challenging but its improving every day. Obviously I was able to practice today and you just try to keep going.

Injuries

Dave Bollands status (concussion) has not changed and Patrick Sharp (left knee) is progressing just fine, Quenneville said. He added that hes still hoping Sharp can return by the end of the regular season.

Bollands situation, however, is harder on which to put a timetable.

The uncertainty leaves you concerned, Quenneville said. But things can change quickly.

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

Five takeaways from Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

We're going to be a little honest. The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs could've been better.

It didn't help that the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks swept their series', wiping out those West Coast games for the last week and a half. There were also only five overtime games, four of which came in the Washington-Columbus series, compared to 18 in the first round last season.

But having said all that, we might be in for one of the most entertaining second rounds in recent memory.

Before we get to that, here are five takeaways from Round 1:

1. Artemi Panarin is a playoff performer.

We're not going to rehash whether the Blackhawks made a mistake in trading away one of the best offensive players in the league.

Instead, let's talk about how the Bread Man proved to skeptics that he's a superstar in his own right, yes, even without Patrick Kane.

It was fair to wonder whether Panarin's production would be on par with what it was in his first two seasons in Chicago, because it was also fair to do the same for Kane, who put up his best point totals in each of those two seasons as well playing alongside Panarin — 106 points in 2015-16 and 89 in 2016-17, respectively.

But the idea that Kane made Panarin was always a lazy narrative, because they both benefited from each other. In fact, Panarin set a Blue Jackets record by registering a 82 points in a single season without Kane, proving he could thrive in a role where he was "The Guy."

Panarin finished the regular season with five straight multi-point games, and opened the playoffs with seven points (two goals, five assists) in three games, including the overtime winner in Game 1. He went pointless in the final three games, but he admitted after the Blue Jackets were eliminated that a knee injury sustained early in Game 5 played a role in his effectiveness — or lack thereof — over the final two contests. That's not an excuse, just a fact.

He now has 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 17 postseason games for his career, which is nearly a point-per-game average. Panarin is a big-game player, and anybody that thinks otherwise is reading too much into the Blackhawks' first-round sweep at the hands of the Nashville Predators last season, where every single member struggled.

2. Do the Penguins have what it takes to three-peat?

The Penguins became the first team in the salary cap era to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. Now they can become the first to make it three in a row, and there's a realistic chance of that happening after they became the sixth team in NHL history to win nine straight playoff series following their first-round win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

There's one major caveat, as there is to almost anything: Can they stay healthy?

Evgeni Malkin will miss Game 1 against the Washington Capitals with an apparent leg injury, and Carl Hagelin has already been ruled out for the first two games.

That's a huge factor in all this, because the Penguins still have three more rounds to go if they want to make history and would need to do it with their second-best player clearly not at 100 percent and probably won't be for the rest of the playoffs.

If there's a year the Capitals can finally slay the dragon having lost nine of their past 10 playoff series against Pittsburgh, it's this one. They've got home-ice advantage, they're healthy, playing well in all phases and don't have the expectations that have seemed to weigh on their minds in the past.

3. Vegas, baby.

Has there been a more fun bandwagon to be a part of than the Golden Knights' during their inaugural season? They racked up 109 points, won the Pacific Division and swept the Los Angeles Kings when many perceived that to be a coin flip.

Marc-Andre Fleury was ridiculous, recording a 0.65 goals against average, .977 save percentage and two shutouts in four games against the Kings. Vegas as a team allowed only three goals and scored seven, with each of those seven goals coming from a different player.

It's been an incredible story.

The next stop will be against the San Jose Sharks, which certainly won't be a cakewalk. Expect that to be an evenly-matched series between two teams that aren't satisfied with how far they've come already, especially the Golden Knights. They want to make history by winning a Stanley Cup in Year 1 of existence.

Would it surprise anyone at this point?

4. Boston-Toronto lives up to the hype.

The script was set up perfectly.

Five years after the Maple Leafs overcame a 3-1 series deficit but collapsed in Game 7 at TD Garden by squandering a three-goal lead in the third period, the opportunity to rewrite history was right in front of them.

The Maple Leafs again fell behind 3-1, rallied back to win two straight, had three separate one-goal leads in Game 7 at TD Garden but couldn't seal the deal. It also could've served as a healing moment for the city of Toronto, which was hit with tragedy when a van drove onto a sidewalk and killed 10 people and injured 15 others, the same way Boston came together following the marathon bombings in 2013.

Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, destiny did not prevail and they're still seeking a first-round series win in the salary cap era.

It was as riveting a Game 7 as you'll see, and the hockey gods rewarded fans after a dull first round. But...

5. Get ready for Round 2.

Nashville vs. Winnipeg. Vegas vs. San Jose. Tampa Bay vs. Boston. Washington vs. Pittsburgh.

Close your eyes and pick a series and that could be the most entertaining of the second round. Each of them have the potential to be great.

It's the first time in NHL history the final eight teams standings compiled at least 100 points in the regular season, meaning it truly is the best of the best that's left. So enjoy it.

And good luck with your predictions, because going 0-for-4 looks more likely than 4-for-4.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Attempting to rebuild Blackhawks into a Stanley Cup contender

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Attempting to rebuild Blackhawks into a Stanley Cup contender

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish joins Pat Boyle to answer your mailbag questions. Among the questions they tackle: What was your favorite moment from the Blackhawks’ past season and were you surprised that Joel Quenneville didn’t make any changes to his coaching staff? 

They also discuss re-signing Vinnie Hinostroza, backup goalie options for Corey Crawford and who do they like in the Jets-Predators second-round series?

Plus, Burish looks at the Penguins roster and sees some similarities to the Blackhawks’ situation and attempts to rebuild a Stanley Cup contender.

Listen to the full podcast right here: