Friday, Jan. 14, 2011
Posted: 1:16 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
The Chicago Blackhawks will get a rare privilege next week, a five-day break between games. But with a back-to-back against division rival Nashville on the docket this weekend, the Blackhawks cant get too excited about that break yet.
The Blackhawks, who play the Predators in Nashville on Saturday and then host them on Sunday, entered Friday seventh in the Western Conference standings. The Blackhawks have 51 points while the Predators, currently in fifth place, have 52. A good weekend against a tough opponent could push the Blackhawks up in the standings and make next weeks respite that much more enjoyable.
If you see how tight the standings are, theres no room for error at all, Fernando Pisani said. You have a bad week you can drop to 12th or 13th. We have to keep focused. Every game from here on in is gong to be like this. Its going to be a dogfight every night.
This weekend wont be easy. The Predators lost Thursday night in Florida but had a six-game winning streak prior to that. Theyve given the Blackhawks a tough time this season, taking the first two games before the Blackhawks beat them 4-1 here in December.
They keep themselves in games, check well and read well, coach Joel Quenneville said. They can frustrate you, too, if you try to get away from what makes you successful. At the end of the night theyre usually in every game.
The Blackhawks have had a busy schedule and probably have their eyes on next weeks time off. But for this weekend, their heads still have to be on the Predators.
Corey Crawford, who will start Saturday in Nashville, said, Our focus is on tomorrow first. Once the break comes well think about that but weve got some work to do first, Crawford said. Nasvhille is a smart team. They know they have to manage the puck and not turn anything over, they chip things in. Theyve got some skill, too, so if youre not careful they can beat you with that also.
I just think we should be energized going into these games; hopefully we dont have to wait to get up to speed, Quenneville said. The last start or two was much more effective. Hopefully we can keep that attitude and try to reinforce the pace.
Jonathan Toews talked more about the All-Star game on Friday, and who he would choose as team captains.
Id probably pick two of the leading scorers, Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby, Toews said. But its not just two guys. There are so many great players, guys that have that respect and experience around the league, so it doesnt matter.
Duncan Keith, Jake Dowell, Troy Brouwer and Nick Boynton (flu) were all practicing again on Friday.
Niklas Hjalmarsson did not practice on Friday. Quenneville said the defenseman is fine, and he will play Saturday in Nashville.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.