CSN Chicago: Six 'Hawks you need to know
Six Blackhawks you need to know
---- By Tracey Myers CSNChicago.com ---- Hello, fine folks of Boston, and welcome to the Stanley Cup Final. It’s not exactly new territory for the Bruins, nor is it for the Chicago Blackhawks. You know the principle characters from the Windy City, your Jonathan Toews, your Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp. But every team has those players that work just below the star surface, those players who are either carving out their own niche or who play a great role in making his team successful. So, as we await Game 1 between these ‘Original Six’ teams, let’s look at six Blackhawks with whom Bruins fans will want to familiarize themselves.
Before the playoffs began, Bickell’s name wasn’t really bantered about much in the hockey world. What a difference (nearly) two months makes. Bickell has gone from third-line checker/bruiser to one of the Blackhawks’ top postseason goal scorers. Bickell still brings that physical element, and has doled out timely hits in the playoffs. But those goals, be it the up-close-and-personal ones or off his wicked wrister, have been even more critical to the Blackhawks’ success. It’s going to lead to some financial success for Bickell, too, this summer, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The Blackhawks’ Calder Trophy candidate has been quiet offensively this postseason after putting solid numbers up during the first 48 games. But don’t let that fool you: Saad is still a force out on the ice, a strong kid who will fight for the puck and hold onto it. He’s also not afraid to go into those “tough” areas, as coaches call them. The 20-year old has looked on the verge of breaking out of his scoring slump the past few games.
You’ll get to know this guy, especially when the Blackhawks go on a penalty kill. Frolik was a 20-plus goal scorer when he was with the Florida Panthers, something he hasn’t gotten close to being with the Blackhawks. But he’s making his name as a penalty killer, a special-teams category in which the Blackhawks have thrived all regular- and postseason.
See what we wrote above for Frolik? Repeat a good chunk of it. Kruger, like Frolik, was a guy that coach Joel Quenneville rolled the dice on early this season on the penalty kill. The roll worked in both cases, and Kruger has also built defensive-minded chemistry with Frolik on the Blackhawks’ fourth line. Quenneville isn’t afraid to put those two out there in critical 5-on-5 situations, and they’re the first guys out on the penalty kill.
Bruins fans, meet Shaw, the Blackhawks’ shift disturber. Shaw isn’t the biggest guy on the ice, but he has no problem taking on all comers, no matter their size. Shaw was penciled in as the Blackhawks’ third-line center to start the season, and has basically stayed there throughout. He’s also been a little net-front bugger on the power play.
If someone gets in the way of a Bruins shot, chances are Hjalmarsson will be that guy. He’s one of the best at a truly thankless job in this sport, the art of blocking shots. But it goes beyond that for the Blackhawks defenseman. He’s been more noticeable this season, and his defensive reliability and puck moving has been strong. He’s back with Johnny Oduya, and those two formed a strong duo from the start this season.