Anaheim Ducks

Dennis Rasmussen 'fired up' after leaving Blackhawks for new role with Ducks

Dennis Rasmussen 'fired up' after leaving Blackhawks for new role with Ducks

Dennis Rasmussen wasn’t sweating free agency. The Swedish forward, who turned 27 on Monday, had heard from his agent that there were some opportunities there. Between that news and his first trip to Wimbledon, Rasmussen was enjoying his summer.

On Friday he got a new deal with his new team, a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks. And as much as Rasmussen enjoyed his time with the Blackhawks, he’s ready to see what he can bring out west.

“I got some calls from my agent; he said there were a couple of possibilities, some interest from other teams. But after talking I really got fired up for the Ducks,” Rasmussen said in a phone interview on Saturday afternoon. “I’m really happy about it. I’m fired up to start right away.”

As the summer progressed all signs pointed to the Blackhawks extending Rasmussen a qualifying offer; but as the deadline for doing so approached, the Blackhawks didn’t. Multiple reports said Rasmussen turned down an extension in March; he was a healthy scratch in seven of eight games from March 4-21. Rasmussen said, “with respect to Chicago and my agent,” that he didn’t want to discuss that.

“I have nothing bad to say about Chicago,” he said. “It was great to play there, the coaching staff, the organization, everything. It was really good for me and I’m happy with the opportunity I got there.”

[MORE: Moving forward, who are the Blackhawks’ center options?]

The Blackhawks lose one more potential center with Rasmussen gone. As for Rasmussen, he’s eager to see what he can do with the Ducks. He doesn’t expect the transition to be too difficult. Rasmussen knows a few players there already, including forward Jakob Silfverberg.

“Silfverberg and a few other Swedes are probably going to take care of me,” he said. “Of course it helps a lot. Especially off the ice, it’s really helpful for someone who speaks your own language and know how it works.”

While he’s mainly known for his two-way game in the NHL, Rasmussen would like to have the production he did back home. He had 16 goals and 24 assists in his final season with the Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League.

“I feel I have more to give on the offensive side,” he said. “I played better offensively in Sweden, and that’s something I hope I can bring in the NHL, too.”

Rasmussen will likely head to California in late August. He’s grateful for the time he had with the Blackhawks but he’s ready to see what he can do in Anaheim.

“My biggest dream was to play in the NHL, and I got the opportunity in Chicago to do that. There are a lot of things I learned [with the Blackhawks] and thankful for that,” he said. “At the same time, I’m really pumped to go to Anaheim and excited about the opportunity.”

Blackhawks' third line creating chemistry and points

Blackhawks' third line creating chemistry and points

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Ryan Hartman could see a number of reasons why he and his current linemates were finding the back of the net more lately.

"We've been with each other for a bit, that could be part of it. We're feeling comfortable with each other, finding chemistry. Sometimes it is puck luck, sometimes it may be matchups with certain teams that you pay better against," said Hartman, who will enter the final regular-season game with 19 goals. "It's been a good run. Hopefully we continue that into the playoffs and keep that four-line rotation."

Marian Hossa had the night off on Thursday when the Blackhawks lost to the Anaheim Ducks but he, Hartman and Marcus Kruger have developed some chemistry and points in recent games. Their recent production is helping the Blackhawks keep more of that four-line rotation that worked so well for them back in February, and that they'll need in the playoffs.

"Well with that line, make sure there's contribution offensively but you know you'll get reliability defensively. Krugs has the hot stick right now and has scored some nice goals for us. But the reliability with that line is what you like about it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Predictability is what we count on."

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Kruger and Hossa looked like they were onto something in the Blackhawks' first-round series against the St. Louis Blues last spring. Hossa's rebound 26-goal season, coupled with the top two lines finding success, lets the Blackhawks put Hossa elsewhere to bolster scoring depth. Add Hartman, who's been confident and unafraid to shoot no matter who he's playing with, and it's become a good combination. It just took time for them to feel each other out.

"Something like that, yeah," Hossa said. "There's lots of good potential on that line. Krugsy's steady defensively, can make some plays. Hartsy likes to go hard to the net and create space and also he has a really good shot. If he uses it more often I think it's to his advantage. It's about holding onto the puck a little more in the offensive zone and that way we can create more chances."

When the Blackhawks start the playoffs next week they should have their lineup fairly set. The fourth line is, perhaps, the only area of some question. The Blackhawks have always found success with a four-line roll that gives them the right blend of defense and production. The Hartman-Kruger-Hossa combination has provided the former consistently, the latter recently.

"We're going to need everybody," Kruger said. "We're coming close to playoffs and in the playoffs, it'll be tighter games. You need everyone bringing it because it's going to be tough to score goals."

John Gibson outstanding: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Ducks

John Gibson outstanding: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Blackhawks had a few of their top guys sit out Thursday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. Considering where they are in the standings and this being Game No. 81, that was expected. Considering these Ducks-Blackhawks games can get physical to downright nasty – and this one did – it was probably best some of the top guys were out.

Anyway, the regular season is almost over. Before we head to No. 82, let’s look at the notables from No. 81, a 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

What Worked: The Ducks’ opportunism. Anaheim had a lot more to play for on Thursday and when they had a scoring opportunity, especially with the Blackhawks missing three of their top defensemen, they took advantage of it. Corey Perry’s power-play goal was ultimately enough to win it, and he was wide open when he scored it.

What Didn’t Work: Finding the rebounds. They were there to be had for the Blackhawks, no doubt. But whether it was the Blackhawks not being there for them or the Ducks keeping them from them, the Blackhawks couldn’t corral any of those potential second opportunities. You could also include the Blackhawks’ power play, which went 0-for-3 (including a three-minute power play in the third), in this category.

Star of the game: John Gibson. The Blackhawks had some quality opportunities on Thursday night and the Ducks goaltender was up to stopping them all. He was especially good midway through the third period, when the Blackhawks were on a three-minute power play and came up empty.

He Said It: “We’re coming back on Saturday with one more game, so let’s try to do the right things and get ready. We still have to play one more game, that’s the focus. In the past we’ve been in this situation before. Playing for keeps is what our team likes to do but let’s not look past [Los Angeles.]” Coach Joel Quenneville on the Blackhawks wrapping up the regular season on Saturday.

By the Numbers:

19:32 – Time on ice for Gustav Forsling, who the Blackhawks recalled from Rockford on Wednesday.

24:28 – Ice time for Brian Campbell, a season high.

6 – shutouts this season for John Gibson. It was the 12th of his career.

10 – Faceoff victories, out of 15 attempts, for Tanner Kero on Thursday.