Blackhawks

Kids, Toews fuel Blackhawks in blowout of Buffalo

645752.png

Kids, Toews fuel Blackhawks in blowout of Buffalo

Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 9:58 p.m.

Jimmy Hayes said theres no I-can-top-you battle in scoring and outings between him and fellow rookie Andrew Shaw.

If there was, the Chicago Blackhawks might want to encourage it.

Hayes and Shaw each had a goal and an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-2 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks, with 62 points, are back atop the Central Division and Western Conference standings.

It was another all-around team effort for the Blackhawks, who have won four of their last five and have gotten points in each of their last six games. Jonathan Toews scored two power-play goals he now has 26 goals on the season and Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa also scored. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook added two assists each.

The Blackhawks also had another goal disallowed when it was ruled Shaw made a hand pass on the ice. He didnt, and Marcus Kruger wouldve been the scorer, but the play was not reviewable. But the Blackhawks kept going in the third period, making the no-goal a mere afterthought.

And while everyone has contributed, the rookie performances continue to impress. Shaw and Hayes are bringing youthful energy and determination, and something the Blackhawks needed a little more of a constant drive to the net.

The kids are making it look easy at times.

Its definitely not easy. Its just being in the right spots at the right tine, going hard at the net, said Hayes. (Shaw) scored that pretty goal but all of mine have been right around the net. Just go to the net.

For Shaw, it was his fourth goal in as many games and his first career assist.

You cant get too comfortable, he said. The nerves are still there, but you just go in and do it with the mindset that this is another hockey game, play like youve been playing and you wont have a problem. I dont know if Im making it look easy, but Im playing with great guys, going hard to the net and things are bound to happen.

Whatever works. And on Wednesday, there were a lot things working right for the Blackhawks. They scored on two of four power plays both from Toews kept pushing the pace throughout and fired 35 shots on Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth.

Weve had a good couple games here. All the guys are rolling and that makes a difference, Keith said. Everyones clicking out there, contributing and doing the right thing. If we play like that, most of the times good things will happen.

There are a lot of good things happening right now for the Blackhawks. Yes, the Western Conference will continue to be tight; it always is. But theyre getting big points with a big player sitting on the sidelines. Its a testament to the depth of this team and to the opportunistic rookies who have added to it.

Its making a huge difference for our team right now that all four lines are working and making things happen, Toews said. It doesnt matter who were playing against if we play that smart defensive game and we roll four lines the way we have. All four lines can score right now and its good to see that confidence as a team.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

usatsi_9256612.jpg
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.”