Blackhawks

Five Things from Blackhawks-Leafs: Powerful power play

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Leafs: Powerful power play

Well, that was a little more like it.

The Blackhawks were getting frustrated with their latest home stand, which wasn’t resulting in a lot of points. But they looked more like themselves on Monday with their 7-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And it came just in time for them to hit the road again. So before we do the same, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Toronto.

1. The power play works. Toronto got into penalty trouble and the Blackhawks made them pay for it: They had seven power plays and capitalized four times. For a team that’s been struggling to get goals in any form at home lately, taking advantage of power plays was a welcome sight.

2. Scott Darling has a strong outing. Darling was getting his first start since Jan. 22 and he didn’t disappoint, stopping 35 of 37 shots. His best stop was a sprawling glove save in the second period, which drew a “wow” from coach Joel Quenneville after the game. Thanks to a not-so-busy schedule the rest of the way, Darling may not get many starts. But he needed a good performance when he did, and he got that on Monday.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Patrick Kane has a four-point night. Kane keeps establishing new career highs in goals for a season – he’s now up to 34. But his three assists have him closing in on a career best in that category, too. Kane now has 48 assists this season, just 10 shy of the career mark he set in 2009-10.

4. Brandon Mashinter gets his third goal of the season. There are a few folks who get aggravated when Mashinter is in the lineup. Why? The fourth liner chipped in his third goal of the season on Monday to start the Blackhawks’ offensive outburst. He thought he had another later but it clearly hit the post and stayed out. The Blackhawks have been looking for secondary scoring all season. If he can help stoke the fourth line into adding some of that, great.

5. Teuvo Teravainen gets back on the board. Teravainen has gotten some good opportunities as of late – subbing for Jonathan Toews in Colorado earlier this month and getting some second-line time when Artemi Panarin was out last week. The goals, however, weren’t coming. But Teravainen scored a 5-on-3 goal on Monday, giving him his first goal since Jan. 6. Will that spark Teravainen? Hey, sometimes it just takes one. And Quenneville deemed Richard Panik’s outing on the top line as, “OK,” so don’t be surprised if Teravainen gets the next crack at it.

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.”