Phoenix Coyotes v Chicago Blackhawks

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

1 Comment

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.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.