Cody Franson

Blackhawks make several roster moves

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks make several roster moves

The Blackhawks made several roster moves Monday morning, recalling forward Tomas Jurco from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League and sending down forward John Hayden. Shortly after, they placed defenseman Cody Franson on waivers.

Jurco, who was acquired by the Blackhawks last February, has 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points with the IceHogs this season, and has scored a goal in three of his past four games. The 25-year-old winger was drafted in the second round (No. 35 overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft by the Detroit Red Wings, but has yet to live up to those high expectations.

Hayden has spent the majority of the season on the fourth line, where he developed instant chemistry with Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels early in the year. In fact, that trio has arguably been Chicago's most consistent. 

But Hayden has been quiet over the last couple weeks, and saw his ice time dip to 6:07 — his second-fewest of the season — on Friday in a 5-4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights before being a healthy scratch in a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

The interesting move is on the back end.

Franson had earned an opportunity in November to play alongside Duncan Keith on the top pairing and ran with it for a month. But an injury in December forced him out of the lineup for three weeks, and he eventually lost his job to Jordan Oesterle, who has been magnificent in Franson's absence. 

Oesterle has seven points in 12 games since re-entering the lineup on Dec. 10, has logged at least 19 minutes of ice time in each of them and has scored a goal in three of his last five games. His emergence essentially put Franson on the outside looking in on a team carrying eight defensemen.

It wouldn't be surprising to see Franson, who's on a one-year, $1 million deal, claimed by another team 24 hours from now.

Blackhawks recall Ville Pokka, place Cody Franson on injured reserve

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks recall Ville Pokka, place Cody Franson on injured reserve

The Blackhawks have been one of the healthiest teams in the league this season as far as man games lost, but they took a mini blow to their blue line. 

Cody Franson was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 9 and Ville Pokka was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, the team announced Wednesday.

Franson sustained a lower-body injury last Friday in a 3-2 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres, and was considered day to day. But after practicing Monday, Franson didn't feel healthy enough to participate in morning skate ahead of Tuesday's game against the Florida Panthers and was ruled out.

Franson is eligible to return Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Minnesota Wild.

In a corresponding roster move, the Blackhawks brought up Pokka, who has yet to make his NHL debut. There's a chance he could play Thursday in Winnipeg, but it's more likely the call-up is to provide insurance — although, the Blackhawks announced later in the afternoon that Jan Rutta (upper body) will not travel to Winnipeg, so perhaps Joel Quenneville could roll with seven defensemen against a high-powered Jets offense.

Pokka, 23, ranks second among IceHogs defensemen with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 26 games this season.

He was drafted in the second round (No. 34 overall) by the New York Islanders, and was acquired by Chicago in 2014 as part of the package that sent Nick Leddy the other way.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Flyers: Corey Crawford continues to show his value

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Flyers: Corey Crawford continues to show his value

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night:

1. The power play finally gets one.

The Flyers gave them enough opportunities – the Blackhawks went on their fourth power play before the midway point of the second period. They finally broke through on their fourth attempt, an Artem Anisimov rebound. It doesn’t make the recent numbers look much better – they’re 2 for their last 25 opportunities now – but it was definitely a weight lifted.

2. Not wasting time.

Getting any goals lately has been a chore for the Blackhawks so scoring two in 20 seconds gave them a boost of much-needed energy. Jonathan Toews’ breakaway goal following Anisimov’s power-play score brought life to a listless United Center and gave the Blackhawks their first 2-0 lead since Oct. 9 vs. Toronto.

3. Did we mention the goaltending?

There haven’t been many nights when Corey Crawford hasn’t had to work this season, and Wednesday was no exception. The Flyers were testing him throughout and Crawford held firm, stopping 35 shots for his first shutout of the season and 22nd of his career.

Said Cody Franson: “Until you play in front of him you don’t realize how good he is. He’s probably one of those guys that people don’t necessarily talk about when they talk about [Carey] Price and [Jonathan] Quick and those guys, but I think he’s up there with them.”

4. The Franson effect.

Franson played in just his fourth game on Wednesday night but he continued to make an impact, especially on the power play. The Blackhawks need a booming shot on it again and he’s providing it.

“He’s got a great shot, great release, and gets it through,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Franson’s shot. “His quickness off it is pretty amazing. He has other plays as well as the shot but he’s been good for the power play.”

5. Balancing emotions.

The Blackhawks won’t be getting too giddy off Wednesday’s game but there’s no doubt they had to play with more fire. Now to proceed accordingly.

“It’s having that urgency and playing with a little emotion, being pissed off but also not forcing it too much where you’re going to get too tight, start making mistakes and it goes the wrong direction on you,” Toews said. “Whether you’ve been in this room a long time or not, everyone can get that feeling in here of, let’s just go out there and play. Let’s have confidence. We have a ton of talent, a ton of ability in here. Just keep it simple and the plays and goals are going to come.”