Blackhawks

Learning on the fly, Olsen already impressing Hawks

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Learning on the fly, Olsen already impressing Hawks

LOS ANGELES Dylan Olsen is making the most of his latest stint with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The defenseman is learning on the fly as any rookie would, although pairing with Duncan Keith has helped out in that process. And while hes a left-handed shot, hes also adapting again to the right side.

The Blackhawks have been happy with Olsen, who has soaking up everything in his second stint with the team this season. Coach Joel Quenneville likes what he sees thus far.

I like his size, his presence out there, Quenneville said. He has a nice shot, hes quick and strong in the puck areas and hes growing nicely with Duncs. Its been a nice pair.

Olsen is a plus-1 in his brief time with the Blackhawks this season and has a heavy shot in his repertoire. Hes also made the move to the right side, and Keith said hes done well there.

Hes physical and hes got a good stick. A left-handed shot playing the right side can be difficult with some of the angles and getting blindsided but hes been pretty good at it, Keith said. I find its a tough side to play.

Olsen has played the right some in juniors and in college so its not a complete surprise. Still, its an adjustment.

Its just moving the puck up in your zone together, watch going cross-ice instead of going up the wall. And when youre rimming pucks you have to try and stop it on your backhand, which is tougher. Just little things like that, Olsen said. But you practice on it, work on it and carry it over during the game.

Its all been a learning experience for Olsen, but so far, so good.

Its been getting better every game. I make a few mistakes but theyre going to happen, Olsen said. Ever since I paired with Duncs weve been playing well together. He communicates with me every time, helps me out. We want to keep going from here.

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.”