Thursday, April 22, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
With the biggest game of the Chicago Blackhawks season looming, mere hours away, heres a snapshot of whats happening with the team, and the mood of some of the key players tonight:
Dirty Dozen: Just 12 Blackhawks skated today, along with goaltender Cristobal Huet: Kris Versteeg, Adam Burish, Brian Campbell, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Brent Sopel, Troy Brouwer, Colin Fraser, Nick Boynton, Tomas Kopecky and Bryan Bickell.
Vincent Van Go: Joel Quenneville was not on the ice to run the morning skate. Taking the lead role was skating coach Paul Vincent, known for running a tight ship and drilling players hard. Today was no different, as the 12 skaters ran a short but tough practice emphasizing stick-handling and footwork. Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti was also on the ice, working individual drills, such as feeding Boynton on some blue line slap-shot runs.
Howlin Burish: Burish hit the ice for warm-ups and immediately let out a loud howl.
Fourplay: Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz and assistant Peter Horachek were in the stands watching the Blackhawks practice, and Chicago wasnt giving anything away with regard to its lineup tonight. There were none of the standard extra skating drills for tonights scratches. Instead, Burish, Bickell, Brouwer and Fraser remained on the ice for front-of-net shooting drills against Huet.
It would appear, then, presuming Eager was excused from practice and will be active, that the final two forward spots are up for grabs among these four players. With all the hype of having Burish back and Bickell getting to contribute, it looks like Brouwer and Fraser are the scratches.
Two funny notes from this end-of-practice drill. First, Bickell kept getting pucks past Huet. Huet would slam his stick after each one, finally screaming out, F--- you, Bicks!
Afterward, Bickell told me that he seems to have a good record against Huet, with a big smile. On the flip side, Brouwer couldnt buy a goal, and on the very last shot of the drill, he broke through, raising his stick and shouting to celebrate.
Who Are You?: Trotz and Horachek left together and were talking about the Bon Jovi concert that took place at Bridgestone Arena last night. Trotz said he offered Quenneville a ticket, and that Q had refused, profusely. The two had a big laugh over Cool Hand Q at Bon Jovi. I told the two that Q is more a Who guy, and they said, Oh, yeah? So be prepared, that if theres a postseason rematch in 2011 and the Who have embarked on a 14th or 15th farewell tour, Qs got a line on some tix.
Finally, some post-practice quotes:
Its been an up-and-down season for me. Its been a good learning experience to be here with the team. Ive been learning a lot.
On Quenneville stating before the playoffs that Bickell will remain with the team throughout, active or not: That was nice of him to build me up. Its nice to hear a coach say things like that, and I want to give him my best game as a result.
At the end of the day its about the bleeping guy across from you on the ice. He isnt going to help you.
Winning in the playoffs is about your will. If you out-will the guy across from you, youll be successful.
Winning isnt just about skating fast or making the pretty pass, its about chipping pucks in, getting traffic to the net. Playing a simple game.
Winning in the playoffs can be smacking the puck in off your butt. Those are the things that win games. Those little things are in here.
Phoenix has been playing like caged animals, crazy men, and look what theyve done.
We gotta find a way to snap Nashvilles momentum. We gotta find a way to take it back. We gotta squish their momentum.
Advice to Brian Campbell upon his return? Dont get in a fight.
We have to throw that last game in the garbage can. Weve got to get back to some passion and emotion.
Were excited to play tonight. We expect to compete hard.
Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.