Blackhawks

After Weber's injury, Predators rally for huge third period

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After Weber's injury, Predators rally for huge third period

NASHVILLE – Shea Weber immediately headed to the bench and then the Nashville Predators locker room, putting little to no weight on his right leg as he left.

Weber’s long-term status isn’t known; the Predators didn’t have an update on him following Game 2, which they took from the Blackhawks 6-2 on Friday night. And while they will certainly miss Weber if he’s out for any length of time, the Predators couldn’t have responded better to the immediate loss.

With Weber missing the second half of Friday’s game, the Predators played a strong team game and scored four goals in the game’s final 25 minutes. The defenseman left the game after being hit by Brandon Saad along the corner boards.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Losing Weber was tough; he plays a ton of minutes and is the captain and anchor of this Predators team. But missing their leader, the Predators bandied together and made up for his loss as much as they could.

“I think we’ve done a good job of not letting things affect us during a game,” said Colin Wilson, who has three goals in these first two games. “Losing your captain is a big loss. He’s been one of our best players but no matter what’s been thrown at us we’ve kind of stayed even keel. We did a good job of getting it done without him.”

[FIVE THINGS: Who's the goalie for Game 3?]

The Blackhawks know what it’s like to lose a key cog of the team. They went through that for seven weeks when Patrick Kane was out with a fractured clavicle. They had their ups and downs in his absence but still eked out enough victories to finish third in the Central Division.

Conversely, the Blackhawks didn’t take advantage of the Predators’ loss on this night.

“It’s something we definitely have to feed off, their best player goes down and [we have to] try to take advantage of that situation, which we didn’t do much tonight,” Toews said. “It’s the same way if we’re missing one of our top guys: we always respond. But for us, we need to be better and expose their D men when they have a short bench.”

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”