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Frolik, Kruger have stepped to the fore on Blackhawks’ penalty kill

Chicago Blackhawks Headshots

Chicago Blackhawks Headshots

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Updated: May 9, 2013 12:26AM

By the time the sixth Blackhawks penalty was called on Tuesday night — eight seconds after the fifth one expired — coach Joel Quenneville and all of his players were getting pretty aggravated.

Well, almost all of them. Michael Frolik was sort of stoked.

“We were laughing before the game, saying it’s almost like when we get a penalty, [Frolik] gets excited because he’s going to get some more ice time,” Patrick Kane said.

Frolik and his penalty-killing running buddy Marcus Kruger transformed a Hawks weakness into a strength. The Hawks were third in the league in the regular season with an 87.2 percent kill rate, and have gotten better in the postseason. They’re the only team that hasn’t yet allowed a power play goal — the Wild is 0-for-15.

It starts with the dynamic duo of Frolik and Kruger.

“They’ve done a great job,” Patrick Sharp said. “They’ve kind of taken that unit over. They’re out there first every penalty kill — they’ve got great reads, great sticks, and they’re willing to block a lot of shots. They’re a big reason why our penalty kill has been solid all ­season.”

Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa — no slouches — have been the Hawks’ top penalty killers in recent seasons. But this season, they’ve been the No. 2 unit, displaced by a pair of fourth-liners. And they’re fine with that — it means a little more rest and a little more jump late in games.

“They’ve taken the lead,” Toews said of Frolik and Kruger. “They’re the guys that pretty much don’t come off the ice during the penalty kill, and it can get pretty tiring. But they just keep hopping over the bench and doing their job every single time they’re called upon. It’s great to see the energy those two guys are bringing for us, not only on the penalty kill but 5-on-5.”

Frolik, a former two-time 20-goal scorer who scored a pair of goals in Game 2, is just happy to have a role, even if it’s one he never expected.

“It’s a job Krugs and I have taken this year, and I think we’re doing good,” Frolik said.

“You always want to be on the ice and to help the team. I’m happy to be doing that.”

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