Niklas Hjalmarsson will be back in the lineup and Jonathan Toews is out as the Chicago Blackhawks face the Dallas Stars at the United Center.
The Blackhawks' defenseman will play his first game since getting injured against the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 7. Hjalmarsson first had the flu, but "things changed," coach Joel Quenneville said, when Hjalmarsson flew back from San Jose to Chicago two days later.
"It's good to have him back," Quenneville said. "He defends properly and his positioning is strong for us. It's good to have that reliability back."
Meanwhile, Toews (upper body) did not skate again today. When asked if Toews was even working out right now, Quenneville said, "hes progressing. I guess well say thats where were at." Quenneville wasn't sure yet if Toews will travel to Los AngelesAnaheim for the Blackhawks' weekend games there.
There's also no progress on defenseman Steve Montador. As far as his long-term status, Quenneville said, "it would be nice to give you a time line on it but we dont have the precise forecast of exactly where it is. Hes starting to feel better. We're hoping it's not too long."
Andrew Shaw had a terrific 2018-19 season with the Montreal Canadiens. He set a career high with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) despite missing 19 games due to injuries and averaged 15:55 of ice time, which was the highest of his NHL career.
When asked to explain why he believes he had the best offensive output of his career, Shaw pointed to one thing.
“Honestly I just think it was the hunger for the game," Shaw said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I missed nine months with knee surgery and concussions. I battled back to get back to where I needed to be and just started having fun again. Maybe I’m bigger, stronger, older. I think I’ve been in situations in games so many times that you’re better at reacting to them so I think that maybe that has a little bit to do with it.”
The Blackhawks reacquired Shaw because they've lacked some jam in their game over the past couple seasons. And looking at the other moves GM Stan Bowman has made this summer, it's clear that's an area they prioritized.
Shaw noticed it too and he's excited to see how it'll all come together this coming season.
“I still have to be me," Shaw said. "I still have to go out there and work and compete and bring the energy I’ve always brought. I think it’s the intensity and the love of the game that pushes me to do that so I think it’s something that others feed off of. With a couple other guys they brought in, too, we got a little bit more grit, a little bit more defensive game. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”
Check out the interview in the video above.
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The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.
Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.
“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.
"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.”