Blackhawks

Dennis Rasmussen brings much-needed size, offense to Blackhawks

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Dennis Rasmussen brings much-needed size, offense to Blackhawks

It’s not often you hear a guy feel bad about scoring a goal.

Dennis Rasmussen was feeling that way on Sunday, a few minutes after pushing Bryan Bickell’s shot across the goal line. It probably would’ve gone in on its own but Rasmussen’s instincts told him to give it a nudge.

“I just wanted to make sure it was in,” he said. “I wished I’d just let that puck go so Bicksie could have scored.”

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Rasmussen may have felt bad, but his instinct was right. And his instincts and play overall thus far have made him a nice fit on the Blackhawks. The most recent call-up from the Rockford IceHogs, Rasmussen has two goals and an assist in his first five NHL games. He was brought up to add offense but the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Rasmussen also brings much-needed size. While they didn’t have their most noticeable game on Tuesday against Colorado – few in a Blackhawks jersey did – that third line of Bickell he and Andrew Shaw has looked better.

“Obviously you like his presence, his size. He’s a big guy, he’s strong and nice to see him score a couple goals,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “As a young guy coming in, sometimes you’re just trying to get through the game and you can be a reliable player for the coaches and it’s maybe hard to get on the score sheet right away. But he’s been able to do that and hopefully it gives him some confidence and he can keep doing what he’s been doing. He’s played a pretty simple game. He’s played a direct, straight-ahead game and he’s strong and gives us some added size.”

Bickell, who was also on a line with Rasmussen during his November stint in Rockford, said Rasmussen has fit in quickly.

“Me and Shawzy have been talking to him as much as possible on what [Coach Joel Quenneville] likes. I think he’s adapted well,” Bickell said. “The ice time he’s had, he’s made the most of it. I know what the coaching staff likes what it sees.”

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Rasmussen’s had a nice NHL debut with the Blackhawks. He may have felt bad about getting that goal but his instincts are serving him well. Who knows how long the third-line trio stays together – lines usually change after a loss – but Rasmussen is feeling good about his first few games here and credits his line mates for making it easier.

“Yeah, at least I feel real comfortable playing with them. We play a similar style and we’re talking on and off the ice. They’re really trying to help me play well,” Rasmussen said. “I feel they want me to play good and I feel the same with them. I think we started pretty good here.”

Shaw will not receive supplementary discipline for his hit on Colorado defenseman Francois Beauchemin on Tuesday night, according to a source. Shaw was assessed a charging penalty for the hit, which caught Beauchemin high, 12:31 into the third period last night.

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.”