Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Scott Darling, Vincent Hinostroza in vs. Maple Leafs

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Blackhawks: Scott Darling, Vincent Hinostroza in vs. Maple Leafs

Scott Darling will get the start and Vinnie Hinostroza returns to the lineup when the Blackhawks host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the United Center.

Darling came in to relieve Corey Crawford in the Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday but this will be his first start since Jan. 22 (vs. the Florida Panthers).

[MORE: Blackhawks readjust with Marian Hossa out roughly two weeks]

Meanwhile Hinostroza, who made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in October, is back tonight after the Blackhawks recalled him on Sunday. Hinostroza leads the Rockford IceHogs with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 41 games this season.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity,” said Hinostroza. “I definitely think I’m a lot more prepared. I played a lot more pro games and got to know the game a lot better. I think this time I’m for sure a lot more prepared than last time. I’m thankful and excited for the opportunity.”

Erik Gustafsson will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Coach Joel Quenneville said the young defenseman has to be more aggressive on the offensive attack much like he was when he first came up this season.

“He came in and played extremely well and as a young player, we’re not complaining about his game. He just wasn’t as involved in the attack in the offensive part from the back end. That’s something that’s noticeable and he can really enhance our team game with it,” Quenneville said. “He hasn’t been as active as he needs to be, and that’s one area where he can help himself and help our team game as well. Defensively he’s been OK but I think he brought us energy right off the bat with him involved in the attack and with the puck.”

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The Blackhawks are trying to get at least one victory on what they figured would be a more successful home stand than it’s been. Instead they’re winless in their last three at the United Center (0-2-1).

“It’s not going to be an easy game,” Quenneville said. “We have to make sure we’re playing the right way. We want to salvage this home stand here and play the right way. We haven’t had our energy level, our pace to our game at that all-out level that we’re going to need tonight. It’d be nice to recapture that because you can feel the difference when it’s not there.”

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

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USA Today

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks brought Andrew Shaw back to Chicago because they lacked some bite to their game. He's already meeting expectations in the physicality department, leading the team with 23 hits.

But the other part of his game the Blackhawks have to live with is the amount of penalties he takes. Through six games this season, Shaw has taken at least one penalty in five of them and is tied for third among all NHL skaters with six minors. The only two skaters above him are guys who have played in two and four more games, respectively.

Because he plays on the edge, Shaw will occasionally cross it and he's trying to find that balance between toeing the line and not stepping over it.

"I find if I'm not playing on the edge, I'm not playing great," Shaw said. "I need to play physical. Even in preseason, I was just finishing checks — clean, shoulder-to-shoulder — and was getting penalty after penalty. Hockey still is a physical game. There's still hitting; it's still legal. So I'm going to go out there and play hard, make it hard on my opponents, make it hard on them physically, do what I do. Not going to change who I am now. I'm an old dog."

Shaw's reputation may also contribute to the matter. He's racked up more than 600 penalty minutes in his NHL career, including postseason, and the officials might be keeping a closer eye on him when he's on the ice.

"It's something he's got to be aware of, but I also think he's got a bullseye on him," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "If I go back through all the penalties he's taken, he probably earned a couple and he probably earned them five years ago. That's something he's got to deal with. We want him to play hard. I think we can handle the ones where he's running people over. We'll kill those off. Obviously the stick penalties and stuff we don't want. But he's playing hard for the team. That's a good thing."

Said Shaw: "The referees, no matter the history of the player, should call the game as it is. If there's a penalty, call a penalty. If there's not a penalty, you let it go. I mean, yeah, I might have been too vocal in my younger days. But the past three years I've been trying to clean it up a little bit. I just take my penalties when I get 'em. But I must have dug myself a really deep hole. Just trying to climb out of it since."

Still, Shaw knows he has to be smarter about the timing of his penalties and where they're happening. The ones that occur in the offensive zone are the penalties that must be eradicated from his game. The ones he earns from battling between the whistles and sticking up for his teammates, the Blackhawks can live with those.

"Obviously I don't want to take penalties, I don't want to put my team down," Shaw said. "I also don't agree with all of the ones I got. I think I got the short end of the stick on a lot of them. Bite my tongue, go to the box. Our PK's been working hard and competing and killing some penalties. Hopefully they start going my way, I guess."

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Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

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USA Today

Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

Robin Lehner will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at the United Center on Tuesday, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after morning skate. It will be his third start of the season.

Lehner is coming off a game in which he stopped 37 of 39 shots for a save percentage of .949, which earned him the No. 3 star of the game in a 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. He was fantastic. 

Lehner is 1-0-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in two starts this season.

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