Blackhawks

Crawford can't save listless Hawks

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Crawford can't save listless Hawks

RALEIGH, N.C. Coach Joel Quenneville warned his team about this.

He knew the Carolina Hurricanes would come out fast, they would come out hungry and the Blackhawks had better be ready for it.

The Hurricanes did, and the Blackhawks werent.

Corey Crawford was strong once again but the rest of the Blackhawks were stymied in a 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes on Friday night. The Blackhawks struggled out of the gate and didnt challenge Carolina goaltender Cam Ward with enough tough shots.

Quenneville did not like the Blackhawks compete level or lack thereof.

We got dominated in all areas and we werent very good tonight, he said. They were the more determined team and that was clear from the outset. I didnt like how we played.

Tim Brent, Brandon Sutter and Jiri Tlusty scored for the Hurricanes. The Blackhawks fired 30 shots at Ward but most were of the distant and unscreened variety.

We were playing against one of the top goalies in the league. We made it fairly easy on him, shots from the oustide and not a whole lot of traffic, Patrick Sharp said. Maybe were being too cute up there. Sometimes simple is the best.

Jonathan Toews, who was stopped on a breakaway in the second period, said Ward saw everything. Hes one of those goalies thats so technically sound and he also has that coordination and quick reaction. When we had guys at the net we tried to make plays instead of shooting the puck. We have to be a better judge of when to let those shots go and get traffic there.

The Blackhawks came up empty on three power plays, although they had their best chances on that final advantage. Still, Carolina made them pay as that last one ended, with Sutter streaking out of the box for a breakaway goal and a 2-0 lead.

Crawford, meanwhile, was once again giving the Blackhawks a chance at the other end. He stopped 30 of 33 shots, getting beat on Brents double-deflected goal, Sutters breakway and Tlustys 2-on-1 score. He also stopped an Eric Staal penalty shot.

He was great again, Sharp said. The guys in front of him could be better to put some pucks on net and score some goals for him.

The Blackhawks had a lousy game. They were on a seven-game point streak entering this one, so it was bound to happen at some point. The Blackhawks werent using that as an excuse and Quenneville wasnt worried about the one-game total lack of compete. But theyd rather not repeat the same mistakes again on Saturday night.

Everyone still wants to be best they can be. (The Hurricanes) may have come off a game where they were disappointed, but tonight they were certainly better than us.

Emerys chance?

Ray Emery hasnt played since the Blackhawks third game of the season, but it looks like he may get another shot Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Emery has done his best to be prepared.

Youre just working on different things and brushing up on certain areas, said Emery, who was coming off a flu bug when he helped the Blackhawks beat Winnipeg 4-3 on Oct. 13. But when the game comes around it helps to do your homework and study that teams top players. Obviously if theres a layover between games, you have to make sure youre sharp. But you can compensate in those other areas.

Emery may also debut his new goaltending mask, which he just got Friday morning.

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.”