Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger returns as Blackhawks try to solve Jets

Marcus Kruger returns as Blackhawks try to solve Jets

Marcus Kruger is in and Dennis Rasmussen is out when the Blackhawks host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.

Rasmussen skated on Thursday morning but, considering he's been ill the last few days, coach Joel Quenneville said the team will let him rest tonight.

With Kruger's return the Blackhawks get stronger again down the middle, as well as on the penalty kill.

"He was progressing prior to getting hurt," Quenneville said. "We always like to use him in a lot of different situations so we'll see what he does."

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The Blackhawks are facing a Jets team that has already beaten them three times this season. Not only do the Blackhawks have to fight off the urge to look ahead to this All-Star break, they have to try and figure out the Jets.

"They have an incredible core group of young talent, some of these guys, especially up front, that can really skate and shoot the puck and make plays. We watch video on them, power play, penalty kill or whatever, they just seem to be flying. You see them on the highlights, some of these young guys, we have to be ready for this team," Jonathan Toews said. "It's not that we take anyone for granted but we have to have that respect level to get to the next level against these guys and know they're going to come in here and keep that [winning] streak going, so we have to rectify that."

Broadcast information

Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com

Blackhawks forward lines

Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Vinnie Hinostroza-Tanner Kero-Nick Schmaltz

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Scott Darling

Injuries/illness

Dennis Rasmussen (ill)

Jets forward lines

Nikolaj Ehlers-Mark Scheifele-Patrik Laine
Andrew Copp-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Shawn Matthias-Adam Lowry-Joel Armia
Brandon Tanev-Nicolas Petan-Chris Thorburn

Defensive pairs

Josh Morrissey-Dustin Byfuglien
Tobias Enstrom-Jacob Trouba
Mark Stuart-Paul Postma

Goaltender

Connor Hellebuyck

Injuries/illness

Tyler Myers (lower body), Marko Dano (lower body), Mathieu Perreault (upper body), Drew Stafford (lower body), Ben Chiarot (upper body)

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Kirby Dach on road to NHL, role with Blackhawks and rapid fire Q&A

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Kirby Dach on road to NHL, role with Blackhawks and rapid fire Q&A

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis goes 1-on-1 with Kirby Dach to discuss what the past five months have been like since being drafted No. 3 overall, his reaction after finding out he would stay with the Blackhawks past the nine-game tryout and what he's learned the most at the NHL level.

They also play a fun game of rapid-fire Q&A, which includes his favorite cheat day meal, the last concert he attended, NHL players he looked up to as a kid and more.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

 

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Erik Gustafsson is back to looking like player he was last season for Blackhawks

Erik Gustafsson is back to looking like player he was last season for Blackhawks

Less than three weeks ago, Erik Gustafsson fell out of the rotation for the Blackhawks. The offensive production wasn’t there and the defensive part of his game was trending in the wrong direction.

Since being healthy scratched on Nov. 2 against Los Angeles, Gustafsson has looked like a different player. He’s starting to resemble the impact-type player he was last season when he became one of six NHL defensemen to finish with at least 60 points.

And it’s because he’s getting back to his roots.

“I don’t know how, from a scratch, my confidence can get up so fast but I feel like myself a little bit more now,” Gustafsson told NBC Sports Chicago. “I got a video guy that I worked with last year and working with him right now and went back and looked at those videos a couple days ago and it's just a whole other player from last year and now. I just wanted to come back to that moment. I felt like I was having fun out there and not thinking too much.

“I think my defensive part is better than last year but I just want to get back to when I have the puck and I've felt pretty good now the past four games, so let's keep it going."

Gustafsson said that after morning skate on Wednesday. He followed it up by scoring his first goal of the season later that night in a 5-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, roofing a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to end a 16-game goal drought.

“He just looks much more confident with the puck,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “He’s cleaner. He still has a couple turnovers here and there but he’s going to turn it over every once in a while. We just want him to try to be as clean as he can and situationally manage when he’s going to try and do those things.”

It helps that Gustafsson is back to earning top minutes, which he admitted is beneficial because if he has a bad shift he doesn’t have to dwell on it too long. But Colliton is trying walk the line of giving Gustafsson enough rope to make mistakes while also holding him responsible for his play.

“It’s a balance,” Colliton said. “Because you’ve got to earn the minutes you get and if you’re not doing the job then your minutes will go down. But at the same time, I don’t believe that if you make one mistake you should get the hook. That’s a tough way to play when you’re always worried if I make one mistake, you’re going to be punished for it or whatever it may be. So as a coach, that’s the balance, the line we walk to try to get the most out of every player but also make sure there’s accountability.”

Earlier in the season, Gustafsson was consumed by trying to develop a defense-first mentality without taking away from his offensive instincts. Now he’s gotten back to focusing on the strengths of his game rather than the weaknesses, and it’s allowed him to play looser. 

"I think it was a lot of parts like moving my feet, skating,” Gustafsson said of what he noticed during video sessions of his play last season vs. this season. “It's a big part about my game, too. I have to skate a lot. Last year when I got a guy on me I just faked going one side and went to the other side and just skated and tried to find that open lane to pass it. And I think at the start of this season I just wanted to get rid of the puck right away. I don't know if it's just confidence or something, but I think I’m moving my feet much better now than I did my first 10 games."

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