Saturday, Mar. 27, 2010
By Chris Boden
Turns out it wasnt a total day off for the Blackhawks following their worst, most embarrassing loss of the season. Yes, Joel Quenneville kept his players off the ice. But he didnt let them off the hook for their 8-3 whipping by a Columbus team that went into that game ranked 24th in the NHL in offense.
A sign of a good team and we have one here is if someone makes a mistake, youre held accountable, somebody tells you, Adam Burish said after he and the rest of the Hawks got back in their skates for practice Saturday. We had a little meeting yesterday and Q addressed the issues that we had. Some of the guys said a few things to each other. Thats what a team has to do, what a good team does. Maybe thats a reason a day off, too, was good we addressed the issues, talked about it, kinda pulled the elephant out of the bag. There it is, lets address it, lets figure out whats wrong and lets not hide it, not put it away or not talk about it. Address it, get it out on the table. Now..lets put it away and move forward.
Burish spoke in general terms what was discussed. It was the way we played, the way we defended. Just a lot of things. What was said in the meeting, Ill keep it in here. Like I said, it wasnt one guy or one thing, just a combination. The tone was, weve got ten games left to play the way we wanna play play the right way and thats whats gonna carry us into the playoffs.
Youve never seen a team kind of limping into the playoffs, playing garbage hockey in the last ten games, then all of a sudden, play awesome. You know that, so you have to play good going into the playoffs, got to feel good about your game, and have confidence. So weve got to find that. Obviously, Detroits probably playing with a ton of confidence right now and separated themselves for that eighth spot, playing as good as they have all year. So weve got to get to that level.
I think we cant be too happy with what took place the night before, so that needed to be addressed, Joel Quenneville said of Fridays get-together. You cant be happy with a game like that. We play them next. We should be excited about tomorrow.
As Antti Niemi returns to the net Sunday night, Quenneville still wouldnt publicly proclaim him as his number-one goalie after two shutouts his last three starts and Cristobal Huets struggles. I did ask the Head Coach about the popular suggestion making the rounds that with his team in a fight for playoff positioning the final nine games, over 15 days the best way Huet can get his (admittedly shaken) confidence back in time for the post-season would be a handful of games at Rockford.
I dont even think you can do that, but thats not under consideration at all. You want to be playing your best, we know the importance of goaltending. Anttis coming off several sharp games in a row. I think we want to make sure theyre both comfortable and confident. Thats what well be working on.
Niemi would be experiencing his first taste of the NHL playoffs, and his Finnish League post-season experience wasnt anything close to the upcoming grind that begins in just two weeks. The 26-year-old was in net for six playoff games in each of his two seasons with the Pelicans of SM-Liga, and two games for Rockford last spring.
Thats another reason Fridays meeting needs to provide more productive play - and results - on the ice. The way Detroits been playing, the Hawks may well avoid them in the first round, as the Wings could inch up as high as fifth or sixth in the conference playoff standings these next two weeks. But everyone in that locker room seems to be aware of the need to ramp up their own play, no matter whom they face.