Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011Posted: 4:20 PM
By: Chris Boden
Jake Dowells done with his bout with the flu, and Joel Quennevilles optimistic the same can be said of Patrick Kane in time for Wednesdays opener of a crucial three-game homestand.
Kane missed a second straight day of practice with apparently the same bug thats bitten Corey Crawford, Fernando Pisani and Marian Hossa over the past couple of months. It comes as Kane was starting to heat up, with four goals and seven points over the previous four games (including being held off the scoresheet Saturday night against the Coyotes).
With Kane out, Viktor Stalberg moved up in practice Tuesday to share line time with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. While Toews, Kane and Sharp have provided the expected production since Quenneville put them together in Edmonton, the other lines, five-on-five, have sputtered. Thats why he has high hopes for the trio of Dave Bolland, Hossa and Michael Frolik. Theres potential for them to jump-start each other offensively, with Bolland being the most productive of the three lately, despite enduring a three-game point drought sandwiched between 10 over the previous nine games and a pair of power play assists Saturday.
We want to get the best from everybody, Quenneville said after Tuesdays practice. Fro, Bolly, Hoss. All three have the potential to make a real nice line for us. We need that group to be effective and hopefully they can all max-out for us.
Frolik seems really skilled and sees the ice well, according to Hossa. Hopefully, we can get things going. We need it, especially five-on-five goals.
A familiarity between Frolik and Bolland comes from the YoungStars Game at the 2009 All-Star Weekend in Montreal, when they opposed each other, aside from the two meetings between the Hawks and Florida Panthers some nine months later in Helsinki. Froliks now in a 25-game goal drought, while Hossas lit it up just four times in his last 24 games. Each desperately needs a spark from which their team would greatly benefit.
Hes an incredible player and hes done so many things here, Frolik says of his fellow eastern European. Its so much of an experience to play with him, especially for me to play on the same line.
Seven of the next eight games are against Western Conference teams in the same playoff dogfight. After an Edmonton paper last week hinted the defending champs have spent all season talking the talk but not walking the walk, the right things continue to be said in the locker room now that theyre back home, looking to improve on a 16-13 record. It starts with the team that handed them that 13th loss in their last home game three weeks ago, the Minnesota Wild.
Brent Seabrook: Yknow its one of those games thats a must-win. Weve got to come out, have a really good start to that game, then put in a full 60 minutes.
Hossa: The race is tight and we can climb up, but we need, from these games, two points. Thats the only way were going to climb up and it starts tomorrow.
Bryan Bickell: Weve gotta come after em hard and quick. We need the two points to at least get going on this homestand.
Quenneville: A lot of teams have had their runs and put us in a spot now where we have to do something about it. Were looking for our own run ourselves to put us in a spot we really want to be.
Besides Kane, the only practice absentees were Fernando Pisani and Ryan Johnson. Theres been no update on their progress from injuries sustained Friday in Dallas.
Corey Crawford makes his second straight start in net. Four even-strength shots got past him versus the Wild in the final game before the All-Star Break.
Frolik had never been to Chicago before coming back with the team from Phoenix, so Wednesday will be his first United Center experience.
They say its an incredible atmosphere and a great hockey town, so I cant wait for that, he said.
The Wild have won 9 of their previous 11 heading into Tuesday nights home game against league-leading Vancouver. Both losses during the run have been by one goal. John Madden scored the deciding goal (one in the ninth round of a shootout) in back-to-back wins last week.
Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.