Phoenix Coyotes v Chicago Blackhawks

Game of the Week preview: Blackhawks limp into big game with Red Wings

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As Joe pointed out, the Detroit Red Wings won’t be 100 percent for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 pm ET on NBC), but the ‘Hawks won’t shed a tear for their hated rivals. That’s because you might call* Chicago the “Blackandbluehawks” considering some of the bumps and bruises that line their roster.

The team will certainly be without underrated two-way center Dave Bolland for the immediate future, even though Matt and CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers note that he is making some promising progress.

Myers notes that Patrick Sharp and Tomas Kopecky did not practice for Chicago on Saturday, but Joel Quenneville said that both were “just fine and resting.”

The same cannot be said for big Troy Brouwer, who is dealing with an injury to his right shoulder. Quenneville said that his day-to-day window is still the “status quo” and that he’s “not close” to a return to action just yet. That’s a shame for Chicago, because Brouwer can open up a lot of space for his linemates while also showing the occasional flicker of offense when skating alongside top players.

It seems like the Blackhawks are walking a solid line between asking guys to fight through pain in games that are basically playoff contests in the regular season (see: Sharp and Kopecky) while also practicing enough patience not to rush guys who need to recover (such as Brouwer and Bolland). After all, Chicago could be like one of Brian Campbell’s “old school” coaches, who took an almost amusingly unenlightened approach to one of the offensive defenseman’s injuries.

Bolland had made little progress for what seemed like weeks before improving this past week. Campbell said he didn’t bother Bolland too much during his recovery.

“I’m not the type of guy who wants to ask too many questions on how he’s feeling because I’m sure he gets that 500 times a day,” said Campbell, who added that his only concussion was when he was in juniors.

Campbell came back quickly from his concussion, which was dealt with in an interesting way.

“My junior coach told me to have a beer and fall asleep and I’d be all right. He’s old school, as you can tell,” Campbell said. “I played a few days later, but concussions weren’t the talk of everything back then.”

Some say, “Old school,” but I call it “Opening yourself up to the possibility of going into a coma.” Anyway, it sounds like Kopecky and Sharp will probably gut it out to try to clinch a playoff spot while Brouwer and Bolland might be on the sidelines for some time.

Then again, you never know with hockey players (and their coaches, for that matter).

* – You know, if you’re a fan of making cheesy puns. Not that I know anything about that.

Hitch’s recipe for more goals is a pretty simple one

Ken Hitchcock, David Backes, Dmitrij Jaskin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund
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Ken Hitchcock wants the Blues to spend more time attacking and less time defending.

Because hockey isn’t rocket science, that’s why.

“To score and win games in the National Hockey League…you have to spend as much time in the offensive zone as you can,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch.

“When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, you’re forechecking more. When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, the goalie has to make saves. They’re having to defend more. And the opposing team takes penalties on you. So they’re all connected. … What I want to see from us is staying on the puck for longer stretches.”

According to the stats, the Blues have not been spending as much time in the offensive zone as we’re used to seeing from them. In fact, in their last 20 games, they rank in the bottom third of the league in score-adjusted Corsi. That compares to their first 20 games when they were in the top third.

The result is fewer shots, and more importantly, fewer goals. The Blues have fallen all the way to 25th in offense, averaging just 2.37 goals per game. Last year, they finished fifth (2.91).

Yes, some of that may be due to the absence of Jaden Schwartz, and he should be back soon. But there’s a reason people are watching GM Doug Armstrong as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. This team could probably use another piece up front.

The Blues host Minnesota Saturday.

St. Louis has scored just five goals in its last five games.

Goalie nods: Lindback ‘really excited’ for first start in almost three weeks

Anders Lindback
AP
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Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.

The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.

Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.

Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.

Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.

Elsewhere…

— No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.

Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.

— Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.

A ‘pretty solid two-way player,’ Sundqvist to make NHL debut for Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins' Oskar Sundqvist (49) collides with Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of a NHL preseason hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.

Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.

“Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.

“I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”

Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.

Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.

Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury

John Scott’s wife gives birth to twin girls

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As if John Scott wasn’t already having a great week, now he’s the proud father of twin girls.

The Montreal Canadiens shared the good news via their Twitter account today.

Scott, the unlikely 2016 All-Star Game MVP, is currently back home in Michigan; however, he’s expected to resume his career at some point with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

When, exactly, he suits up for the IceCaps remains to be seen, but it won’t be tonight or tomorrow.

Related: Therrien on Canadiens possibly recalling John Scott: ‘You never know’