Blackhawks

Blackhawks notebook: Andrew Desjardins getting closer to return

Blackhawks notebook: Andrew Desjardins getting closer to return

Andrew Desjardins can see the end in sight.

The forward has been out since the start of the season with a lower-body injury sustained late in the Blackhawks’ final preseason game. But now that he’s skating again, Desjardins is close to getting back to bolstering the Blackhawks’ forward depth – and doing the same for their penalty kill.

Desjardins is still at least several days away but has looked good in two consecutive skates. Desjardins joined teammates at Sunday’s optional skate but will not play tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. Coach Joel Quenneville said they’ll get a better idea where Desjardins is, possibly next weekend.

“Conditioning’s part of it but also you gotta make sure the injury’s fully healed and you’re ready,” Quenneville said.

Desjardins said he “felt pretty good” following Sunday’s skate. He hasn’t missed many games due to injury in his career, so the wait hasn’t been easy.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate,” Desjardins said. “I think the longest stretch probably a week with a concussion a few years ago but besides that, I’ve been pretty fortunate with injuries. So again, it’s one of those things you just try to stay positive and that’s all I can do.”

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Whenever Desjardins does return, it can’t help but be a positive for the Blackhawks. He’ll add depth to a thin forward group as well as to a penalty kill that has struggled since the season began. As Desjardins said, “it comes back to a team thing and one player isn’t going to change that completely.” Still, he should help some.

“You know it seems like the last few games here it’s been getting better. It’s a team thing, so I think it’s obviously a situation where the guys have been working hard and trying to correct some of the mistakes that have been occurring,” he said. “You obviously want to be out there to help out when you can.”

Faceoff work

Artem Anisimov hasn’t fared so well in faceoffs so far this season, so he did some work with development coach Yanic Perreault earlier this week.

“We just talk about what I need to do and we just go over two or three things I need to focus on,” Anisimov said on Sunday. “I just tried to focus in the last game.”

Anisimov went 8-for-16 on faceoffs in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Relating to the Cubs

The Cubs are down 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians heading into Game 5 of the World Series tonight. Coach Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks are familiar with overcoming that deficit – they were down 3-1 before coming back to beat the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 Western Conference semifinals. Quenneville said the focus has to be solely on this game.

“Get the momentum back. [You have] home field tonight, just try to make a break,” he said. “Look at the small picture and get that excitement. They’ve had a great season; just win one game, get it back.”

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.”