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Blackhawks’ Frolik takes advantage of opportunity

CHICAGO (MCT) — It’s not the way he would have preferred to get back in the lineup, but Michael Frolik took advantage of rookie Andrew Shaw’s suspension to gain playing time.

The veteran winger replaced Shaw, who was exiled for three games for a hit on Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith during Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals Saturday, when the teams squared off in the third game of the series Tuesday night at the United Center.

Frolik, who was a scratch the first two games, scored the Hawks’ third-period goal Tuesday night, temporarily putting them ahead 2-1. It was his first goal since Dec. 14.

“Everybody wants to play,” Frolik said before the game. “I want to be in, (but) it’s not nice (that I would) want a guy suspended or injured. I’m a team guy.”

Frolik viewed the opportunity to contribute at a crucial time as a second chance to reverse the course of an inconsistent season that saw him first sent to the fourth line and then a healthy scratch 17 times during the regular season. He had five goals and 10 assists and was a minus-10 in 63 games.

“It’s kind of disappointing a little bit, my season,” Frolik said. “The first 20 games were good (and then) I don’t know what happened. Hockey is about confidence and I guess I didn’t have much confidence.”

Saad story: Among the five players the Hawks added to their roster — the so-called “Black Aces,” who likely will practice and travel with the team at some point during the postseason — was Brandon Saad.

The teenager was the story of training camp and won a job to start the season, playing in the first two games before being sent to the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, where he had 34 goals and 42 assists in 44 games.

Coach Joel Quenneville indicated Saad likely wouldn’t appear in the series against the Coyotes but didn’t rule the 19-year-old appearing later.

“We liked (Saad) in training camp and how he started the season,” Quenneville said. “He brings something to our organization that we like.”

Labor update: Commissioner Gary Bettman said no formal discussions have begun with the players’ association on a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA is set to expire Sept. 15.

“It’s really up to the union,” Bettman said. “We’ve been ready. We can’t do this until they’re ready.”

Bettman said he hopes a deal is reached quickly and a work stoppage next season is avoided.

“My hope is it’s quick, quiet and painless,” Bettman said.

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