ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville loves to refer to defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson as a warrior.
And why not? The guy sacrifices life and limb every time he laces up the skates.
He sure did Sunday against Minnesota when he blocked 4 shots, including one that caught him in the neck-throat area causing him to crumple to the ice before gingerly making it back to the bench.
As usual, Hjalmarsson returned to the ice without missing a shift.
"He's a Swedish Viking," Johnny Oduya said of his defensive partner, who came into the game leading the NHL with 30 blocked shots,
On Tuesday morning, Hjalmarsson was sporting a protective device over his neck-throat area for the morning skate and afterward wasn't talking to the media -- or anyone else for that matter.
"He's fine, but he's unable to speak right now," Quenneville said of the condition that may linger for a while. "But he's ready to go."
Of course he was.
"He's a tough character," Oduya said. "He's one of a kind, obviously, and it's good for morale."
The only question heading into Game 3 was how the inability to speak would affect a quarterback on the ice like Hjalmarsson, who had 3 blocked shots through two periods Tuesday.
"Obviously you like to talk to the goalie playing it, your partner, whether he's got an out or you're the out; sometimes that can be beneficial," Quenneville said. "He's pretty aware of how to play the game and those types of situations.
"Maybe he's got to adapt a little bit, but for the most part we expect him not to change too much."
And despite the injury there is a silver lining for Hjalmarsson -- he doesn't have to talk to the media for a while.
Might other Hawks players sacrifice a puck to the throat for that honor?
"They're getting in line for that one," Quenneville said with a laugh.