Blackhawks

Blackhawks' Quenneville returns to practice

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Blackhawks' Quenneville returns to practice

Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011
Posted: 11:17 a.m. Updated: 3:39 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Coach Joel Quenneville came onto the ice around 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Within a few minutes, it was just business as usual for the Chicago Blackhawks coach, from practice to diagnosing his own injury.

I was on IR for a week. Well call it an upper body injury and were all good to go, said Quenneville with a laugh. The only pain I was in last week was sitting in the hospital watching games.

As the Blackhawks head to Nashville to play the Predators on Thursday, Quenneville is ready to assume all his normal duties again after going to the hospital a week ago with internal bleeding related to an ulcer. Quenneville said he feels great after being treated for the ulcer, which he said was caused by the daily aspirin hes been taking for years for other reasons.

He added that he figured he was getting the same flu bug the rest of the team had last Tuesday night before heading to the emergency room.

I actually didnt feel that bad, particularly, that night, he said. I thought I was coming down with the flu like everyone else. We were waiting and all of a sudden it wasnt just the flu.

Quenneville said he learned a few things in his down time and his stay in the hospital, from where he was discharged on Saturday.

I got to observe the value of teamwork (in the hospital) and you watch that process and equate it to what we do, he said. We know how fortunate we are and the position we are in and the team that we can be. Its a different perspective sitting back and observing it from a different angle. There are some things you can take from it.

Quenneville missed four games, during which the Blackhawks went 3-1-0 under assistant coach Mike Haviland. Quenneville said he felt good enough to come back for the last three games, but we had to get our blood work up to a different level.

The Blackhawks were obviously happy to have their coach back on Wednesday.

Its good energy. It looked like the first day of training camp for him, defenseman Brian Campbell said. (His return) is definitely going to help us. It brings a fresh person in the locker room after having a few days off, so its good to see.

Troy Brouwer said having (Quenneville) back brings familiarity to the group, line calls and play calls. He expects us to continue to play like we have been. He jumped right back into it; he was excited and moving pucks. We had the usual practice.

Quenneville hopes the Blackhawks learn from this latest surge, and from the final 40 minutes they played against St. Louis on Monday. The Blackhawks enter Wednesday night in 10th place in the West, and

(The Monday victory) puts you at 68 points, where everybody is. There are six or seven teams fighting for that space, so that really put us in a good spot, Quenneville said. Weve got games against teams that are all in the airspace were in, so lets gather that momentum from St. Louis.

Pisani better

Fernando Pisani (concussion) practiced on Wednesday and has been cleared to play. Pisani has been out since sustaining his injury against the Dallas Stars on Feb. 11.

I skated for a couple of days and havent had any problems. I feel 100 percent, said Pisani, who hasnt seen replays of that Mark Fistric hit that knocked the back of his head into the bench railing. I felt it, so I dont think I need to see it again. Its one of those hits where I got caught in vulnerable position and my head hit the boards. I feel good now and thats the focus.

Quenneville said Pisani is a game-time decision against Nashville on Thursday.

Leddy ill

Defenseman Nick Leddy was sick and did not practice on Wednesday. Leddy was sent to Rockford on Tuesday and was set to be recalled on Wednesday but his illness scratched that. Quenneville said Leddy could be recalled Thursday for the game.

Briefly

Corey Crawford will start against the Predators.

Nashville is 3-2-0 against the Blackhawks this season.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Reports: Blackhawks among finalists for a pair of international forwards

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AP

Reports: Blackhawks among finalists for a pair of international forwards

The Blackhawks are always active in the overseas market. Over the last few years, Dominik Kahun, David Kampf, Michal Kempny, Jacob Nilsson, Artemi Panarin and Jan Rutta are among the notable Chicago signings that have come from there. 

And they continue to be an attractive destination.

The Blackhawks have reportedly expressed interest in 24-year-old Russian winger Ilya Mikheyev and 26-year-old Swedish forward Anton Wedin, and the feeling is mutual.

Of the 30 NHL teams that have checked in on Mikheyev, TSN's Darren Dreger reported on Tuesday that the Blackhawks are among the finalists — although it appears the Toronto Maple Leafs could be the frontrunners. Mikheyev, who's 6-foot-2, 194 pounds, racked up 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) in 62 games this season for Avangard Omsk of the KHL, and tallied 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 13 postseason contests. His decision is expected to come this weekend.

Wedin has also reportedly narrowed his list, which includes the Blackhawks. He had a breakout season in the Swedish Hockey League, where he compiled 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 32 regular-season games and nine points (two goals, seven assists) in seven playoff contests with Timra IK.

The 5-foot-11, 194-pound winger is expected to make his decision either before or after the 2019 IIHF World Championship, depending on whether or not he plays for Sweden.

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Why fixing penalty kill is crucial for Blackhawks in 2019-20

Why fixing penalty kill is crucial for Blackhawks in 2019-20

Just how important is special teams in the NHL?

Of the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason, 14 clubs had at least one special teams unit that was ranked in the top half of the league and 12 teams had at least one unit ranked in the top 10.

The Blackhawks finished the season with the 15th-ranked power play and 31st-ranked penalty kill. The Blackhawks' 72.7 percent kill rate is the lowest the league has seen in 30 years.

“The penalty kill is something that clearly has to be better," GM Stan Bowman said. "That was a big disappointment this year, no question about that. So we have to devote some resources to that. Some of it might be players, if we get some players that have that kind of experience or have a history. Part of it is tactically can we find ways to be better. We have a lot of time now to study it and put a lot of our focus on that.”

Jeremy Colliton did not rule out getting external help to improve the PK.

“We’re going to look at everything, for sure," he said. "We’re going to look at obviously tactically and we’re going to look at the personnel and how we’re using guys and try to put them in the best situation we can. And maybe that’s new, different guys who weren’t getting the opportunity. Or maybe that’s someone from outside.”

The Blackhawks did manage to fix their power play issues this past season. When Colliton became head coach on Nov. 6, the Blackhawks power play was near the bottom of the league. By December, the man advantage was dead last, cashing in on fewer than 12 percent of their power plays.

Colliton made Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Erik Gustafsson his top power play unit and from Dec. 20 till the end of February they were the league's best unit, converting on 35.2 percent of their power plays.  

Gustafsson’s addition to the power play was a major factor in the unit's improvement.

"A big part of our power play progression and transformation from being at the bottom to being in the top group," Bowman said of Gustafsson. "I was really pleased with that and we're going to need him next year for sure.”

If the Blackhawks penalty kill can make strides like the power play did, Colliton’s crew will likely be playing at this time next season.

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