Blackhawks

With Bolland out, Frolik is center of attention

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With Bolland out, Frolik is center of attention

Saturday, March 12, 2011Posted: 2:42 PM Updated 5:37 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. Its been a while since Michael Frolik has played center on a consistent basis.

WATCH: Frolik center of attention

Still, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired him from the Florida Panthers in early February because of his versatility among the forward spots. So when Dave Bolland was knocked out against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Frolik was thrown into the center fire.

He passed the test and hell be back there again on Sunday.

Blackhawks meet President Obama

Frolik will center Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa when the Blackhawks play the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon. For Frolik, whos been adjusting to a new team and a new system since the Feb. 9 trade, its just one more switch that hes willing to make.

Its really just a different mindset, he said. Its going to be different but I felt good out there in Tampa. You cant really think. You just have to play. I was with Hossa and Bicks, so thats a great line. Hopefully we can do a great job there.

The Blackhawks knew this was one asset they were getting with Frolik. A solid scorer with two 21-goal seasons prior to this one, Frolik has played predominantly wing over the last few seasons but adjusted well on Wedensday night. He also won five of eight faceoffs, a pleasant surprise for coach Joel Quenneville.

Over time were looking for consistency to see how he handles center. I think he did a nice job with what he was doing out there (against the Lightning), how he positioned himself. With faceoffs, that was a surprise how well he did. Sure every games different. Even today watching him in the faceoff circle, it looks like theres something there. Hopefully that line can take off a little bit.

Frolik and Hossa played a bit together when Frolik first came to the Blackhawks. They have talked about Froliks move to center and are on the same page.

Its just one more adjustment for Frolik. But for someone whos had to do plenty of it already, hes used to it.

Every games different, he said. I got a few practices in (at center). I feel like Im more comfortable right now and its getting better every game.

Good start

The Blackhawks want to get back to what worked for them in their eight-game winning streak. One of the good aspects was their starts, as the Blackhawks usually got in front of their opponents early. That has to return after looking up after the first period of their last two games.

With the slow starts, we cant put a finger on it, Troy Brouwer said. Even through the winning streak, we had a lot of games where we took one period off and games that shouldnt have been close were very close. We have to find a way to make sure were playing the entire game. First- second- or third-period lapses, weve been having them all as of late. We have to straighten out and make sure we find our game the entire game.
Brian Campbell lays on the ice after taking a big hit from Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin when the two teams met on March 14, 2010. Campbell suffered a broken collarbone and Ovechkin was suspended two games. Will there be payback on Sunday? (AP)
Injury updates

Defenseman Brian Campbell, who suffered a leg injury against Florida on Tuesday, will be a game-time decision for Sundays game. It was nearly a year ago when the Blackhawks last played the Capitals and Campbell took a nasty hit from Alexander Ovechkin. Campbell suffered a broken collarbone and Ovechkin was suspended two games.

But Quenneville said paybacks cant be part of the Blackhawks game on Sunday.

You have to be smart, you have to be disciplined and we have to have purpose with our play, he said. Last year was dealt with and we have to control what we can control.

Meanwhile, Bolland (concussion) will be out Sunday after taking an elbow to the head against the Lightning on Wednesday. Coach Joel Quenneville said theyre seeing a little progress with Bolland; hes still listed as day to day.

Defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith, both nursing hand injuries, will play Sunday. Corey Crawford will get the start in goal.

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

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

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AP

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

COLUMBUS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday:

1. Corey Crawford steals the show

The Blackhawks had no business winning this game. They were being outshot 28-15 through two periods, committed four penalties and gave up 18 high-danger chances in the game. 

But Crawford bailed out his team like he often has done in the past, and was zoned in from the moment the puck dropped. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .974, picking up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017.

"Yeah, I felt good," Crawford said. "I think everyone was playing hard, rebounds, taking away sticks. That was a great effort by everyone."

"He was standing on his head for us," Patrick Kane said. "As Q would say, that’s a goalie win for us."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was vintage Crow."

2. Tic-tac-toe leads to go-ahead goal

The Blue Jackets were clearly the better team through two periods. The Blackhawks were fortunate to go into second intermission with the game still tied at 1-1.

The next goal was crucial, and they got it thanks to a give-and-go play by Brent Seabrook and Kane, who buried home a wide open net to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:14 left in regulation.

Was Kane expecting Seabrook to pass it back?

"No. Not a chance," Kane said laughing. "That’s his wheelhouse, coming right down there. He scores a lot of goals from that area. Saw it was like a 2-on-2, he was coming late, he jumped in the play on the first goal, did a great job, jumped in the play on that goal. Made a great pass. When I saw it come back, I just tried to stay patient, settle it down and make sure I hit the net, because I knew I had the whole open net."

3. Busy night for PK

The Blackhawks penalty kill was very busy. It was also on it's A-game, partly because their best penalty killer was Crawford.

The Blackhawks spent 6:31 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, allowing 11 shots total on it. But most importantly, they killed off all four penalties.

"We had some tough clears, but I thought we did some good things," Quenneville said. "We withstood some extended PK zone time there and found a way to keep us in the game. Obviously that next goal was huge and that second period was a big part of them having so much zone time, keeping us in our end. We'll say, hey good job, but Crow was the best penalty killer tonight."

4. Catching up with Kane on Artemi Panarin

Kane and Panarin spent only two seasons together, but they brought Blackhawks fans out of their seats on a nightly basis and it was amazing to watch the instant on-ice chemistry they shared. And most of it was non-verbal, which made it even more impressive. They were always on the same wavelength.

"Sometimes it takes time to build some chemistry but that was one of those things where it was like, I don't want to say instant chemistry, but after one or two preseason games we kind of new that maybe something special was going to happen," Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think he scored in his first game in the NHL, we had a really good game, we had the puck a lot, we sensed that this could be a fun way to play hockey."

Off the ice, Kane said Panarin would use Google translate on his phone to communicate while Kane would try using a Russian accent while saying English words.

The two of them got a chance to hang out for a little bit on Friday and Kane still keeps tabs on his former linemate.

"I always really enjoy watching him," Kane said. "If we have an off night or something, he's a really fun player to watch."

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

COLUMBUS — The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets blockbuster trade from the 2017 offseason is always a hot topic in Chicago when things aren't going great. It especially is when the two teams square off against each other, like Saturday at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season.

If it wasn't already apparent in Chicago, Artemi Panarin has emerged as a real NHL superstar and is set for a giant payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He set a Blue Jackets record with 82 points in a single season and has nine points (three goals, six assists) through six games this season.

Brandon Saad, on the other hand, had a challenging first year back with the Blackhawks in 2017-18 after netting only 35 points in 82 games and is off to a slow start this year as well with zero goals and two assists through six games. After a demotion to the fourth line, he was close to being a healthy scratch on Thursday, which only magnifies where things are at as the two get ready to clash.

But Saad was never going to be able to replace Panarin's offensive production. Everybody knows that. Yet, the offensive comparisons will always be there as a barometer and that's something Saad doesn't think about, no matter how much fans talk about it.

"I don't think I do it," he said. "We're different players. He's a great player. Fans are going to do whatever comparisons they want, but at the end of the day you've got to be true to yourself and do what you bring to the table. He's a great player around the league. You can see his highlights and his goals, he's definitely a special player. But at the end of the day I've got confidence in my abilities too. We both bring different attributes, but they're going to make comparisons regardless."

A big reason why the Blackhawks reacquired Saad, other than his ability to play a 200-foot game, is because he carries a $6 million cap hit through 2020-21, which is two years more than Panarin at the same cap hit. (It's also important to note that the Blackhawks hoped they were getting a reliable, young backup goaltender in Anton Forsberg, but the injury to Corey Crawford thrust him into a role he wasn't exactly prepared for.)

It's not all rainbows for Columbus right now regarding where things stand with Panarin, who has made it clear he's not ready to sign a long-term extension. All signs point to the 26-year-old winger hitting the market, putting the Blue Jackets in a tricky situation ahead of the trade deadline. The Blackhawks very well could have found themselves in this position, too, had a deal not been made.

Both sides are dealing with their own challenges of the trade. Saad is still a key piece to the Blackhawks' puzzle and they're hoping to get more out of him, for no other reason than the team's overall success.

"You want to have success regardless of who you're playing for, who you're traded for, things like that," Saad said. "Naturally, just as competitors, you want to bring that excitement and you want to have success with the team and personally."