Saturday, March 19, 2011Posted: 4:40 PM
By Tracey Myers
GLENDALE Troy Brouwer tried to forget about Thursdays loss as soon as it was over. Not that there were many memorable moments the Blackhawks could take with them.
You just wash it, for me at least. There were no positives you can take out of that game, Brouwer said. You learn from the negatives and then you just forget about it.
What the Blackhawks are very mindful of, however, is the task at hand. Theyre seventh in the Western Conference, and theyll probably be in the same spot Sunday when they face the surging Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
And all those phrases that contain big game, critical game or must win are in full effect again.
Its for sure the biggest game to date. And well probably say that 10 more times, said coach Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks have 11 games remaining in the regular season. Its definitely a huge game and its going to be very important.
The Blackhawks thought about that all through Saturdays practice, which featured plenty of puck-battle drills and 5-on-5 defensive zone work, two things that were lacking against Dallas on Thursday.
We were doing OK (early Thursday) but not generating any chances. When youre not getting chances youre not scoring goals, Brouwer said. We got away from the game plan, giving away too many odd-man rushes. We played right into what they wanted to do. We just try to shake it off as much as we can and learn a little bit.
The Blackhawks had a solid practice on Saturday but Quenneville said that has to flow over into Sunday.
It was more workmanlike than some days but we have to play that kind of way, he said. We need to be hard to play against. That defensive mind type of mentality in all areas of the ice is what makes us effective.
The Blackhawks were working as one during their eight-game winning streak. They got away from that in Dallas and need to get it back against a Phoenix team that has thrived on playing a team game lately. The Coyotes have won five in a row heading into Sunday, including a 3-1 victory over red-hot Vancouver on Friday.
The best players need to be the best going into the playoffs. Everybody knows that and we just have to respond, Marian Hossa said. We just have to play the team game. Thats the most important thing. That didnt happen in Dallas. We have to be on the same page and be smart and play the team game.
The Blackhawks dont have to look at the standings every day to know the race is going to stay tight. Theyve put Dallas behind them. Their minds have to be focused on the latest big game.
Whatever happened in Dallas happened, its over with and were moving on. Our whole team has to be better, Patrick Sharp said. This is our biggest game of the year, absolutely. We thought Dallas was the biggest game of the year. With 11 games remaining, theyre all going to get bigger and bigger.
Bryan Bickell said he felt 10 times better following Saturdays practice than he did about an hour before the Blackhawks loss to the Stars on Thursday night. Bickell said he didnt feel too bad Thursday morning, when he didnt participate in morning skate. But right before the game he was much worse and couldnt go.
An hour before the game I just couldnt do it, he said. It was definitely (tough). Im not a guy to miss a game like that. It was hard to see it on TV and then being a guy short. It put the team in a tough spot there.
Quenneville said the team is talking about calling someone up for Sundays game against the Coyotes for precautionary reasons.
Defenseman Brian Campbell (left foot) will not play Sunday against Phoenix. There was an outside chance that Campbell could join the team here but he remained home nursing that injury. Quenneville is hopeful Campbell will be ready soon.
When we get back, we expect him likely to skate and hopefully this week at home hell be able to play, said Quenneville, who added Campbell has not skated the past few days.
Meanwhile, Dave Bolland (concussion) is showing a little progress, Quenneville said. Bolland has been sidelined since that Tampa Bay game.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.