Blackhawks

Brandon Mashinter latest IceHog to get chance with Blackhawks

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Brandon Mashinter latest IceHog to get chance with Blackhawks

Brandon Mashinter was stocking up on groceries when he got the call from Rockford general manager Mark Bernard.

“He said, ‘Can you take them back?’ [I said,] ‘No, why?’ And he ended up telling me I was coming up,” said Mashinter, who the Blackhawks recalled from the IceHogs on Wednesday morning. “A little bit of a surprise with the forwards and nobody injured, but it’s definitely nice.”

And it looks like Mashinter will be part of the team’s fourth line — with Andrew Desjardins and Marcus Kruger — when the Blackhawks host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. Mashinter has four goals and three assists in 12 games with the IceHogs, so he’s the latest to get his opportunity.

[MORE HAWKS: Duncan Keith could return to Blackhawks this weekend]

“You get some size, some physicality. He skated well in camp, played well in the games he played and was playing well down there [in Rockford],” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You want to get some consistency in our game and hopefully he can give us that.”

That’s part of it, for sure. Another possibility may be the Blackhawks still have a few days, at least, of wiggle room with their salary cap — defensemen Michal Rozsival and Duncan Keith are still on long-term injured reserve, and the Blackhawks can utilize their salaries while they remain on that list. So why not give another player who’s done well in his time in Rockford a chance?

“Time’s running out if that’s the case; it’s an opportunity to do things,” Quenneville said of the cap. “At the same time he’s earned the opportunity, too, by how he’s playing and what we’re looking for.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Things have gone well thus far for Mashinter, who is the IceHogs’ captain this season.

“Bounces have been going my way early this year, especially for our team in Rockford. We had a little bit of a rough start the first four games but the last eight have been going really well,” Mashinter said. “I just always try to play my own game and not think too much about anything really except playing my game.”

BRIEFLY

- Ryan Garbutt (illness) practiced with the Blackhawks on Wednesday. He was not on the top four lines — he, Viktor Tikhonov and David Rundblad wore white jerseys as “fifth liners” — but Quenneville said it was more because Garbutt is still coming off that illness. “Yeah, let’s see how he handles that. He hasn’t been on the ice for four or five days.”

- Teuvo Teravainen did not finish practice, but Quenneville said the forward, “seemed all right. We’re still expecting him to play tomorrow.”

- Corey Crawford will start against the Devils. 

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.”