Hawk Talk: Fighting through Flu-bruary


Hawk Talk: Fighting through Flu-bruary

Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011Posted: 4:20 PM

By: Chris Boden

Jake Dowells done with his bout with the flu, and Joel Quennevilles optimistic the same can be said of Patrick Kane in time for Wednesdays opener of a crucial three-game homestand.

Kane missed a second straight day of practice with apparently the same bug thats bitten Corey Crawford, Fernando Pisani and Marian Hossa over the past couple of months. It comes as Kane was starting to heat up, with four goals and seven points over the previous four games (including being held off the scoresheet Saturday night against the Coyotes).

With Kane out, Viktor Stalberg moved up in practice Tuesday to share line time with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. While Toews, Kane and Sharp have provided the expected production since Quenneville put them together in Edmonton, the other lines, five-on-five, have sputtered. Thats why he has high hopes for the trio of Dave Bolland, Hossa and Michael Frolik. Theres potential for them to jump-start each other offensively, with Bolland being the most productive of the three lately, despite enduring a three-game point drought sandwiched between 10 over the previous nine games and a pair of power play assists Saturday.

We want to get the best from everybody, Quenneville said after Tuesdays practice. Fro, Bolly, Hoss. All three have the potential to make a real nice line for us. We need that group to be effective and hopefully they can all max-out for us.

Frolik seems really skilled and sees the ice well, according to Hossa. Hopefully, we can get things going. We need it, especially five-on-five goals.

A familiarity between Frolik and Bolland comes from the YoungStars Game at the 2009 All-Star Weekend in Montreal, when they opposed each other, aside from the two meetings between the Hawks and Florida Panthers some nine months later in Helsinki. Froliks now in a 25-game goal drought, while Hossas lit it up just four times in his last 24 games. Each desperately needs a spark from which their team would greatly benefit.

Hes an incredible player and hes done so many things here, Frolik says of his fellow eastern European. Its so much of an experience to play with him, especially for me to play on the same line.

Seven of the next eight games are against Western Conference teams in the same playoff dogfight. After an Edmonton paper last week hinted the defending champs have spent all season talking the talk but not walking the walk, the right things continue to be said in the locker room now that theyre back home, looking to improve on a 16-13 record. It starts with the team that handed them that 13th loss in their last home game three weeks ago, the Minnesota Wild.

Brent Seabrook: Yknow its one of those games thats a must-win. Weve got to come out, have a really good start to that game, then put in a full 60 minutes.

Hossa: The race is tight and we can climb up, but we need, from these games, two points. Thats the only way were going to climb up and it starts tomorrow.

Bryan Bickell: Weve gotta come after em hard and quick. We need the two points to at least get going on this homestand.

Quenneville: A lot of teams have had their runs and put us in a spot now where we have to do something about it. Were looking for our own run ourselves to put us in a spot we really want to be.
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Besides Kane, the only practice absentees were Fernando Pisani and Ryan Johnson. Theres been no update on their progress from injuries sustained Friday in Dallas.

Corey Crawford makes his second straight start in net. Four even-strength shots got past him versus the Wild in the final game before the All-Star Break.

Frolik had never been to Chicago before coming back with the team from Phoenix, so Wednesday will be his first United Center experience.

They say its an incredible atmosphere and a great hockey town, so I cant wait for that, he said.

The Wild have won 9 of their previous 11 heading into Tuesday nights home game against league-leading Vancouver. Both losses during the run have been by one goal. John Madden scored the deciding goal (one in the ninth round of a shootout) in back-to-back wins last week.

Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.

What being teammates with Connor McDavid was like for Blackhawks' Drake Caggiula

What being teammates with Connor McDavid was like for Blackhawks' Drake Caggiula

Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula will likely be back in the lineup for Wednesday night's Game 3 against the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Caggiula was suspended for Game 2 over an illegal check to the head of Edmonton forward Tyler Ennis in Game 1.

As a Game 2 spectator, the 26-year-old feisty winger watched former teammate Connor McDavid terrorize the Hawks with a goal 19 seconds into the contest, another just 3:46 later and a power-play marker to complete the hat trick late in the second period.

Caggiula and McDavid played together in Edmonton from 2016 until Drake was traded to the Blackhawks on December 30 of 2018.

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"In terms of playing with Connor, I had a front row seat to watch him play," Caggiula told the media on a Zoom call Wednesday from Edmonton. "He's obviously a world-class talent. His speed and the way he thinks the game and the way he plays the game is pretty much unlike anybody else. He's one of those players that (if) you let him have his time and space, he's going to be extremely dangerous and I think if we don't get any bodies on him, we don't slow him down and he just has free ice to roam around, it's a pretty dangerous combination for him. 

"He's a tremendous player, he makes everybody around him better and that's why he's probably recognized as one of the best players, if not the best player in the world right now and we got to make sure we do our job to limit his speed and limit his opportunities."

The two's relationship goes a long way back.

"We got back to... I was in 12th grade and he was in ninth grade, so I know a lot of people talk that we were best friends for the longest time, but no. We went to school together and we knew each other and obviously playing together for two-and-a-half years, we obviously built on that relationship. I definitely consider us close, we work out together in the summertime and all that sort of stuff. We definitely have a pretty good relationship."

The three-year age gap between the two mattered less to Caggiula when he was looking for guidance when he was about to turn pro.

"When I was leaving college and trying to decide where to sign I had reached out to him and asked him what he thought about Edmonton and obviously he gave me some pretty positive insight and that also (led) into some of the reasons why I signed in Edmonton. 

"He was great as a young captain, I was able to lean on him and despite being three years older than him, I leaned on him and asked him a lot of questions, asked him how I could better my game and I was able to learn quite a bit from him. ... Just to be able to play with him was a special treat, but we're on opposite teams now and I got a job to do and I got to play hard against him and he's going to do the same against us. Like I said, all friendships are on hold right now, we're just here to play hockey."

Caggiula got engaged during the NHL pause. It sounds like he expects his friendships with some of the players on Edmonton to be back on after the series concludes because he said some Oilers will get invites to the big day when the details are ironed out later on.

Drake Caggiula doesn't agree with Game 2 suspension, but 'I respect the decision'

Drake Caggiula doesn't agree with Game 2 suspension, but 'I respect the decision'

As a player who's had a history of head injuries, Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula is all for the league punishing illegal checks to the head. Those kinds of hits have no place in the game.

It's why Caggiula was suspended for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers after delivering a "high, forceful hit on Oilers forward Tyler Ennis [in Game 1] that picked the head, making it the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable," according to the NHL Department of Player Safety.

While he respects the ruling, Caggiula doesn't necessarily agree with it.

"I think what you can ask for is consistency around the league and make sure that it's the same for everybody," Caggiula said. "It was a one-game suspension, I don't necessarily agree with it, but I respect the decision and I totally respect the fact we want to protect players' heads and safety."

The incident occurred at the 7:42 mark of the second period on Saturday. Caggiula's right shoulder clearly made contact with Ennis' head, but it was a tricky play to analyze because Ennis' head positioning changed on the follow-through of his clearing attempt.

At no point during Wednesday's pregame video conference call did Caggiula try to defend his hit on Ennis. He simply wanted clarity from the Department of Player Safety on how that specific hit was different from other non-suspendable ones and got his answer.

Now he's ready to move on.

"The consistency thing is what we're all looking for as players," Caggiula said. "We just want to know what the standard is. I know what the standard is now, and I have no issue with it."

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