Blackhawks

Blackhawks prep for energetic Oilers

Blackhawks prep for energetic Oilers

A week ago, the Blackhawks rolled an Edmonton Oilers team that was lackluster coming off their bye week. Now the Blackhawks will try to avoid the same fate.

Corey Crawford will start and Michal Kempny returns to the lineup when the Blackhawks host the Oiler Saturday night at the United Center. The Blackhawks are coming off their six-day bye following their Ice Show trip, during which they went on a five-game winning streak.

The Oilers, meanwhile, have gotten their legs back under them. After falling to the Blackhawks, they rattled off a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes and a 6-3 triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Blackhawks don’t want to come off the bye week the way the Oilers did last Saturday.

“We had a really good game against Edmonton away. We have to play the same way here tonight, get to the same pace,” Dennis Rasmussen said. “But it’s really important to have short shifts in the beginning, being off a couple of days.”

Most teams haven’t been successful coming off the bye week. Here’s the breakdown of how teams have done thus far (keep in mind, even if a team had the five-day break, they could practice after 4 p.m. local time on the fifth day):

TEAM DAYS OFF RESULT
Arizona Coyotes 5 W
Calgary Flames 5 L
Carolina Hurricanes 5 OTL
Colorado Avalanche 5 L
Edmonton Oilers 5 L
Florida Panthers 5 L
Los Angeles Kings 6 L
New Jersey Devils 5 L
New York Islanders 5 OTL
New York Rangers 5 L
Ottawa Senators 5 L
Philadelphia Flyers 5 L
Pittsburgh Penguins 7 W
Toronto Maple Leafs 5 W

The Blackhawks made three changes to the lineup out of last Saturday’s game, including Crawford getting back in net. Kempny is back in (Gustav Forsling remains in Rockford) and Andrew Desjardins draws back into the lineup (Vinnie Hinostroza also stayed in Rockford).

Regardless of lineup, the Blackhawks want to come out strong and stay that way.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“Concerns are when we’re playing a team in that situation, where it’s like the start of the season, coming off breaks, we’re always emphasizing shooting the puck, getting traffic at the net. Being ready to play with the mental and simple approach is what we’re trying to do and making sure that there’s a purpose behind how we’re ready to start,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Especially against a quick team like this, we want to make sure we’re going to be aware of their rush game and their transition game. That’s why we want to be simple and ready.”

Broadcast information

Time: 6 p.m.

TV: WGN, NHL Network

Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks forward lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Andrew Desjardins

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries

None

Oilers forward lines (via team website)

Patrick Maroon-Connor McDavid-Jordan Eberle

Milan Lucic-Leon Draisaitl-Anton Slepyshev

Drake Caggiula-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Zack Kassian

Matt Hendricks-Mark Letestu-Iiro Pakarinen

Defensive pairs

Andrej Sekera-Matt Benning

Oscar Klefbom-Adam Larsson

Brandon Davidson-Eric Gryba

Goaltender

Cam Talbot

Injuries 

Jujhar Khaira (wrist), Darnell Nurse (ankle), Tyler Pitlick (knee), Kris Russel (undisclosed)

Dylan Strome's return comes at opportune time for Blackhawks offense

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USA Today

Dylan Strome's return comes at opportune time for Blackhawks offense

BOSTON — The Blackhawks will be getting a boost on Thursday when they take on the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. 

After missing four games with a concussion, Dylan Strome will return to the lineup and is expected to slot into his normal second-line center role in between Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane. And it comes at an opportune time for the Blackhawks, who have scored just 14 goals over their last seven games.

"You want to be out there, you feel like you're letting the team down," Strome said of his absence. "You're part of this team, so it's definitely nice just to be back with the guys. ... You want to be out there helping the team win and if they're already winning you want to be out there helping them contribute. Obviously I wanted to get out there and it sucks just watching but you gotta take the time to get better and ready to go now."

Strome said it wasn't fun watching the Blackhawks from afar, especially when the team was on the road, and it didn't make things any easier after his team got blown out in three straight games against Central Division opponents. He was also playing his best hockey of the season before he got hurt.

Strome had 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in his past nine games after recording seven points (three goals, four assists) in his previous 14. The Blackhawks are hoping he won't skip a beat.

"I thought the three-week stretch before he got hurt, it seemed like he was taking steps all the time," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Hopefully he can get back to that as quickly as possible. It provides offense of course for us with another center. I think defensively he's been improving. That's important obviously, especially if he's playing with DeBrincat and Kane. If they're able to get out of D zone, if they're able to force a turnover, they're extremely dangerous in those moments. If he can create more of those, it's going to be really good for the team."

The Blackhawks are facing a Bruins team that ranks No. 3 in goals for per game (3.61), No. 1 in goals against average (2.18), No. 2 in power play percentage (30.9) and No. 6 in penalty kill percentage (84.9). The Bruins also have the NHL's leading goal scorer in David Pastrnak (25) and the third-leading point getter in Brad Marchand (44 points).

Oh, and the Bruins haven't lost a game in regulation at home this season (12-0-4). The Blackhawks are in for a big challenge as they look to snap a three-game losing skid and win for only the second time in eight games.

"Obviously they've had a great start, building off their run last season," Colliton said. "Tremendous power play, very aggressive on the forecheck, very active with their D in the offensive zone. They do a lot of things well. It's going to test us. We need to perform well. I think it comes down to, for us, our habits, especially on the road. You need to have a good base, stop and start, manage the puck, find a way to create zone time for yourself, stay out of the box. That allows yourself a chance to win on the road."

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Blackhawks hoping to get players back on road trip

Blackhawks hoping to get players back on road trip

The Blackhawks were still without Duncan Keith (groin injury) and Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol) at practice on Wednesday before hopping on a flight to Boston for Thursday's game and then to New Jersey for Friday. 

With Keith out, defenseman Dennis Gilbert was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL and participated in practice. 

Dylan Strome (concussion protocol) and Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol) will travel with the team and will be evaluated prior to Thursday's game per Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton. Olli Maatta missed practice with "flu-like symptoms" but should be good against the Bruins. Robin Lehner, who missed Monday's game with the flu, practiced Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Tough matchup

The Blackhawks, 1-5-1 in their past seven games and last place in the Central division, will have their work cut out for them against the Bruins, who sit in first of the Atlantic division and haven't lost a regulation game at home.

"We know we have to be better at the end of the day," Hawks rookie Kirby Dach said. "It kind of starts from the top and comes all the way down, we have to find a way to compete every night, pull the rope in the same way. With the leadership group we have, they've been through so much, I'm confident in them and our coaching staff to help us, especially me, get through this."

New Jersey, last in the Metropolitan division, could be a different story. The struggling Devils underwent a coaching change, firing head coach John Hynes and naming Alain Nasreddine interim head coach a couple hours before their 4-3 loss to the Golden Knights on Tuesday.

Close one

Patrick Kane went in early during practice after incidental content with Zack Smith's arm during a drill, but Colliton said he'll be fine and good to go Thursday. 

Moms! 

The Blackhawks players will be accompanied by their mothers on the road for the annual mom's trip.

"I think it’ll give everyone a boost," Colliton said. "It’s always nice to have family around and obviously whether it’s moms or important people in your life, it’ll be good for the group to have them around."

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