Blackhawks

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Nick Schmaltz shines on 21st birthday

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Nick Schmaltz shines on 21st birthday

The Blackhawks were finally getting healthy and now may be missing a key player once again. That depends on how Niklas Hjalmarsson feels after suffering an upper-body injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.

It was certainly the toughest part of the Blackhawks' victory, a 6-3 triumph that has the Blackhawks closing in on the Wild. We'll see what the Hjalmarsson update is over the weekend. Until then, let's look at the notables from this one.

What Worked: The offense. We'll give an honorable mention to the penalty kill, which snuffed out all of the Coyotes' chances including a double minor that overlapped the second and third periods. But the offense was just buzzing again. Here's another shocker: the top line is still working just fine. The trio got things started with Nick Schmaltz's goal just 37 seconds into the game (Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik assisted). And much like in their meeting with the Coyotes earlier this month, the Blackhawks needed just about every bit of that offense. While we're on this topic...

What Didn't Work: The first-period defense. The Blackhawks looked like they were in good shape up 3-1 but then they gave up two goals within a minute late in the period. Michal Rozsival had a rough start in his first game since Jan. 15, but overall, the Blackhawks' defense through that first period looked discombobulated. Obviously, it didn't help that the Blackhawks lost Hjalmarsson during the first, either.

[RELATED: Patrick Kane nets hat trick as Blackhawks cruise past Coyotes]

Star of the game: Patrick Kane. One game after Jonathan Toews recorded a hat trick Kane did the same, scoring his 21st, 22nd and 23rd goals of the season. On a night in which the Blackhawks dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, Kane got a little extra playing time. His first goal came on a first-period shift with Ryan Hartman and Tanner Kero, the second off a long pass from Brent Seabrook and the third with his usual line mates.

He Said It: "I didn't play much before I got hurt, then I missed four weeks with my injury. It wasn't easy but definitely the way the team's playing now, it made it easier for me. It felt like the first game of the season for me but glad we got the victory and glad I was back playing. I enjoyed it." — Michal Rozsival on returning to the Blackhawks' lineup. 

By the Numbers: 

6 – Number of times, in their last eight games, the Blackhawks have scored five or more goals.

342 – Assists for Jonathan Toews, who tied Dennis Hull for 12th all-time in franchise history in that category.

35 – Combined points for the Blackhawks' top liners Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik in their nine games together. The breakdown in those nine games: Toews has 16 points, Panik 10 and Schmaltz nine.

1997 – The last time the Blackhawks had hat tricks in back-to-back regular-season games. Alexei Zhamnov and Eric Daze had them on April 11 and April 13, 1997, respectively.

Dave Bolland joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Dave Bolland joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Throughout the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Chicago will be unveiling its Blackhawks All-Decade Team. The roster will feature the 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goaltenders that made the biggest impact on the franchise from the 2010 through 2019 seasons.

Feisty forward Dave Bolland wore No. 36 for the majority of his Blackhawks tenure from 2006-2013, but there's another number Hawks fans think of when they hear his name: 17. With 59 seconds left in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Bruins in Boston, Bolland scored the 2013 Stanley Cup-winning goal 17 seconds after Bryan Bickell tied it for the 3-2 final score. 

Bolland was drafted by the Blackhawks in the second round (No. 32 overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft.

Agitator, energy provider and goal-scorer were hats "The Rat" wore as a bottom six staple for some very dangerous Blackhawks teams that were allowed to seamlessly roll four lines. 

As seen in several playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, Bolland had the ability to throw the NHL's top players, like the Sedin twins, off their game. 

The two-time Stanley Cup champ (2010, 2013) finished with 168 points (70 goals, 98 assists) in 332 games with the Hawks before being traded on June 30 to the Toronto Maple Leafs for three draft picks. He played 15 games with the Leafs before he severed a tendon in his left ankle and missed the majority of the 2013-2014 season. Bolland became a free agent and signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Florida Panthers, where he played 78 games in two seasons including his last NHL game on Dec. 12, 2015. 

Appropriately, Bolland received a roaring standing ovation for his "One More Shift" Friday, October 18 prior to the Hawks' 3-2 win over Blue Jackets in conjunction with the organization's 10th anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup championship team. 

Dylan Strome's return comes at opportune time for Blackhawks offense

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USA Today

Dylan Strome's return comes at opportune time for Blackhawks offense

BOSTON — The Blackhawks will be getting a boost on Thursday when they take on the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. 

After missing four games with a concussion, Dylan Strome will return to the lineup and is expected to slot into his normal second-line center role in between Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane. And it comes at an opportune time for the Blackhawks, who have scored just 14 goals over their last seven games.

"You want to be out there, you feel like you're letting the team down," Strome said of his absence. "You're part of this team, so it's definitely nice just to be back with the guys. ... You want to be out there helping the team win and if they're already winning you want to be out there helping them contribute. Obviously I wanted to get out there and it sucks just watching but you gotta take the time to get better and ready to go now."

Strome said it wasn't fun watching the Blackhawks from afar, especially when the team was on the road, and it didn't make things any easier after his team got blown out in three straight games against Central Division opponents. He was also playing his best hockey of the season before he got hurt.

Strome had 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in his past nine games after recording seven points (three goals, four assists) in his previous 14. The Blackhawks are hoping he won't skip a beat.

"I thought the three-week stretch before he got hurt, it seemed like he was taking steps all the time," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Hopefully he can get back to that as quickly as possible. It provides offense of course for us with another center. I think defensively he's been improving. That's important obviously, especially if he's playing with DeBrincat and Kane. If they're able to get out of D zone, if they're able to force a turnover, they're extremely dangerous in those moments. If he can create more of those, it's going to be really good for the team."

The Blackhawks are facing a Bruins team that ranks No. 3 in goals for per game (3.61), No. 1 in goals against average (2.18), No. 2 in power play percentage (30.9) and No. 6 in penalty kill percentage (84.9). The Bruins also have the NHL's leading goal scorer in David Pastrnak (25) and the third-leading point getter in Brad Marchand (44 points).

Oh, and the Bruins haven't lost a game in regulation at home this season (12-0-4). The Blackhawks are in for a big challenge as they look to snap a three-game losing skid and win for only the second time in eight games.

"Obviously they've had a great start, building off their run last season," Colliton said. "Tremendous power play, very aggressive on the forecheck, very active with their D in the offensive zone. They do a lot of things well. It's going to test us. We need to perform well. I think it comes down to, for us, our habits, especially on the road. You need to have a good base, stop and start, manage the puck, find a way to create zone time for yourself, stay out of the box. That allows yourself a chance to win on the road."

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