Joel Quenneville

Richards returns, Sharp demoted as Blackhawks hosts Predators


With Brad Richards set to return after missing three games due to an upper body injury, Patrick Sharp is expected to be moved out of the Blackhawks’ top six forward group.

Richards skated on a line with Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane Sunday while Sharp was on the left side with Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith.

“(Richards) coming back, that line was very effective for a stretch when we were winning games [on the circus trip],” Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Sun-Times. “(Jonathan Toews’) line is going fine. I think that line, they get quality ice time and get some big assignments as well.”

Richards has six goals and 18 points in 33 games this season.

“Luxury of the depth this organization has and helps a lot for this time of year,” said Richards. “Being healthy too you know you can get your extra day or two to make sure things are fine tuned.”

Richards has not played since the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss in Columbus on Dec. 20.

Raanta: ‘I don’t want to give my job away’


Antti Raanta finally got a start in the Chicago Blackhawks net Sunday night – his first since Dec. 5.

The 25-year-old made 23 saves in Chicago’s 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

However, he’s struggled to find playing time due to the solid play of Scott Darling, who is 5-2-0 with a 1.97 G.A.A. and a .937 save percentage in seven games this season.

“I don’t want to give my job away,” Raanta told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I know I can play at a good level in this league.”

Raanta is now 4-2-0 with a 1.85 G.A.A. and a .944 save percentage in six appearances.

“It’s even harder when you play good games and get a couple of wins, then you have to sit and wait,” Raanta said. “Sometimes it just goes like that.”

As Mark Lazerus points out in his piece, coach Joel Quenneville continues to call it a “good problem,” as the two goaltenders battle it out in the absence of Corey Crawford.

But once the No. 1 returns, a tough decision will have to be made.

“There are some of those days when you’re a little bit down, and you just think, ‘What should I do better?’” Raanta said. “You can’t start doing that in the locker room. You can’t be there and like just be [whining] because it’s not helping anybody. I just try to be as good a teammate as I can and just try to give all that I’ve got to Scotty. He’s doing great, so it’s hard some days. But that’s just hockey.”

Julien: ‘We need to educate our players to protect themselves better’


The Blackhawks extended their win streak to eight games and rookie defenseman Klas Dahlbeck scored his first NHL goal; however, much of the discussion post-game surrounded Chicago’s Jonathan Toews.

The Blackhawks captain took a hit from behind midway through the second period courtesy Bruins’ defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

Seidenberg received a minor penalty for boarding. Toews left the game soon after and did not return.

It has been reported the Department of Player Safety will review the incident.

Boston coach Claude Julien believes some of the onus is on Toews in that situation to be better prepared to receive a hit.

“I’ve been saying that for a long time, we need to educate our players to protect themselves better,” Julien said per “We keep turning our backs, we keep trying to curl away.

“A player’s job is to finish his check and a player should know he’s going to be hit. It’s not about tonight, it’s about the whole league. I’m one of those guys who has put a lot of pressure on people who look at those kind of things and say, ‘It’s OK to take away those hits from hits from behind when they’re warranted. But what about the other guy? Does he not have a responsibility?’”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Toews is OK.

“He seemed all right,” said Quenneville. “It looks like he’s going to be all right.”

Seidenberg said he felt he had Toews’ right shoulder lined up.

“I would never want to hurt a guy. That’s the last thing on my mind,” he said. “If you go through the middle you have to have your head up, right? It was just unfortunate how (Toews) went into the boards. I thought I had his right shoulder but it just kind of happened and it just didn’t look that great.”

Toews teammates were not happy with the hit post-game.

“It was tough lose Johnny to a hit like that,” said Patrick Sharp. “Seidenberg has a reputation as a clean hockey player. He has a lot of respect. Having said that, we didn’t like that hit.”

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara made his return to the Boston lineup after suffering a knee injury Oct. 23 and played over 24 minutes.

Torey Krug and Reilly Smith had the Boston goals.

Ben Smith and Patrick Kane had the other Blackhawks goals.

The two teams meet for a second and final time in Chicago on Feb. 22.

Roy: ‘They got away with things that we could not’


Chicago won the special teams battle Wednesday night helping the Blackhawks edge the Colorado Avalanche 3-2.

The Avs took three straight second period penalties and the Blackhawks scored on two of them.

After Maxime Talbot gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead, Jonathan Toews scored his 10th on a power play and Andrew Shaw netted his fourth of the season on a Blackhawks man advantage.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy wasn’t impressed post game with the discrepancy in penalty calls between the two teams. Chicago had four minutes in penalties while Colorado finished the night with 12 minutes in penalties.

“I thought 5-on-5 we were the better team,” said Roy. “It’s kind of funny how this game goes sometimes. The last few games we give (up) one or maybe no power plays. Tonight we gave them five in 33 minutes. That’s all they needed to score those two goals. I just thought they got away with things that we could not get away (with) tonight.”

Bryan Bickell scored the eventual game winner at 14:43 of the third. Ryan O’Reilly had the other Colorado goal.

Avalanche rookie goaltender Calvin Pickard made just his fifth career NHL appearance on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old made 42 saves in the loss including 13 in the first period.

“Pickard was obviously outstanding out there,” said Roy. “He made some great saves for us.”

Blackhawks rookie defenseman Adam Clendening was limited to just three shifts totalling 1:52 in the third period as he was benched for much of the final period.

“In a tight game, in that situation there … the experienced guys got to play,” said Blackhawks coach, Joel Quenneville. “Got it done.”

Corey Crawford made 27 saves in the win.

Washington snaps five-game losing skid in Chicago


The Blackhawks led 2-0 less than a minute into the second period thanks to goals from Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith; however, it was all Washington after that as the Capitals scored three unanswered to edge Chicago 3-2 Friday night.

Andre Burakovsky’s third of the season got the Capitals on the board at 15:03 of the second.

Washington then scored twice in a 42-second span to take the lead.

Marcus Johansson tied it 2-2 with his sixth of the season and Joel Ward scored the eventual game-winner with five seconds remaining in the middle frame.

“That’s big when you’ve been struggling a little bit,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said of Washington snapping its’ five game skid. “You could tell, we’ve lost a number of games here [despite] playing pretty well, then losing some games here, when things aren’t going [our] way, you sort of don’t trust yourself confidence-wise. Obviously getting this one will hopefully boost our confidence, and we can go forward.”

Saad opened the scoring at 17:12 of the first, with his second of the season.

Then after Alex Ovechkin was whistled for an illegal check to the head on Blackhawks’ defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, Keith gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead with a power play marker.

With the loss, Chicago has just one win in four games.

“(We’ve got) a 2-0 lead, giving up nothing, make a bad decision and it’s in our net, and it’s in our net and in our net,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We played a perfect 35 minutes and then we basically shot ourselves in the foot with mental mistakes. A couple of plays were totally unacceptable. The last (goal) at the end of the period was tough to give up.”

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said they sat back and allowed the Capitals to take over.

“I don’t think it’s anything that they took from us as much as it is us letting up and kind of getting away from our pace and giving them chances that we didn’t make them earn, so we can’t be happy with that,” Toews Said. “I think we just got satisfied for a short amount of time. I think we felt comfortable with our 2-0 lead and it came back to bite us. We can’t be happy with that. It’s something we need to deal with and learn from right away and not let that happen again.”

Braden Holtby made 38 saves for the win while Corey Crawford stopped 21 shots in a losing cause.