Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Shaw makes up for penalty


Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Shaw makes up for penalty

CALGARY, Alberta — The Blackhawks aren’t in the position to look for style points right now. Any points will do.

On Saturday they got a critical two points with their 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. Again, it’s not a game the Blackhawks will keep for posterity’s sake. But they’ll take it nonetheless. Now before we head to Vancouver, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Flames.

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1. Scott Darling is excellent. The Blackhawks have leaned on their goaltending plenty of times this season, and Saturday was another example of that. The Flames were getting some good opportunities on Darling. But outside of Dougie Hamilton’s second-period goal, Darling was outstanding in stopping 31 of 32 shots.

2. Andrew Shaw is on a roll. Shaw took an unnecessary slashing penalty in the second period, when the Blackhawks were losing their cool and committing a few infractions. But Shaw made up for his penalty by scoring the go-ahead goal with 49 seconds left in the second period. That’s three goals in as many games for Shaw. As coach Joel Quenneville said, Shaw may have taken a bad penalty there, “but certainly he knows where the net is and he brings that energy and tenaciousness that we need right now and got rewarded.”

3. Marcus Kruger returns. The center played his first game since mid-December, logging 13:38 minutes of ice time. He only took four face-offs (he won two, lost two), likely because he’s easing things back with that surgically repaired wrist — “I didn’t take as many as usual, so hopefully I can do more tomorrow,” he said. But Kruger brought good defense and helped put that fourth line (with Andrew Desjardins and Shaw) together again.

[MORE: Andrew Ladd has three-point game as Blackhawks beat Flames]

4. Andrew Ladd’s big night. We’re guessing he’s very thankful for that errant T.J. Brodie pass that led to his first goal of the night but Ladd had a very night evening overall. “I thought he had a great game,” Quenneville said. “He did a lot of good things, made a nice play on the empty-net goal as well. I thought he had good puck possession and pursuit tonight and got rewarded with a couple of sharp plays.”

5. Points, glorious points. The Blackhawks needed these in the worst way. They still don’t have much breathing room between them and the Nashville Predators but the points keep them in third and give them some confidence at a time they need it.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?


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.”