Blackhawks

Dominate, win, repeat: Hawks stars must stay hot

Dominate, win, repeat: Hawks stars must stay hot

Friday, April 22, 2011
Posted: 9:21 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Jonathan Toews was rolling off teammates names that broke through their scoring silence in Game 5, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa among them.

Ive got to feel like theyre coming for me as well, he said with a smile. Im just waiting for the right moment here.

Indeed, the Blackhawks top guns couldnt have picked a better time to get going; and the ones who havent quite revved it up seem to be inching their foot toward the gas pedal.

We always hear it, especially at this time of the season: a teams best players have to perform as such. In Game 5, the Blackhawks best were just that. Kane was deflecting a Duncan Keith shot for his first goal of the postseason.

WATCH: Luongo shaves playoff beard

Hossa was teeing it up from the ladies tees, as Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault put it, for his first goal of these playoffs and driving goaltender Roberto Luongo from the game with his second.

It was Keith putting up career numbers in honor of fallen partner Brent Seabrook and Toews doing everything but scoring. The captain joked about his inability to put the puck in the net thus far this postseason, but even the casual Game 5 observer can see hes close. Save a collar hook by Daniel Sedin, Toews probably does get his first Thursday night.

It was an across-the-board performance on a night when the Blackhawks needed it. They seized control early. And while they quickly had a multi-goal lead they played throughout like a team trying to gain separation in a one-goal affair: relentless, cohesive and determined.

Now the Blackhawks need a repeat in Game 6. Their confidence is building and their stars postseason games are budding. Theyve outscored Vancouver 12-2 in these last two games. The Canucks say theyre still in control, and according to the best-of-seven tote board, they are, 3-2. But their grip is slipping. And considering they had the golden chance to eliminate the Blackhawks in front of their home fans, their Game 5 performance was perplexing.

Brian Campbell spelled it out before the Blackhawks flew to Vancouver for Game 5 on Wednesday. Maybe if you win the next one you feel stronger about yourselves. At that time the Canucks were up 3-1 and this wasnt a series yet.

Thanks to the Blackhawks best playing their best, it is now.

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

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.”