Blackhawks

One last 'biggest game of the year' for Hawks

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One last 'biggest game of the year' for Hawks

Saturday, April 9, 2011
Posted: 12:41 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

One game remains, from which one point is needed. For the Chicago Blackhawks, it comes down to that. Get a point out of their final regular-season game against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday and theyre in the postseason.

A loss and a Dallas Stars win, and its bye-bye Stanley Cup defense. Simple. And its also, obviously, the most critical situation the Blackhawks have faced all season.

Everythings at stake for tomorrows game, Joel Quenneville said after Saturdays practice. I dont know how many times weve said that statement all year, but tomorrow it really is.

If the Blackhawks want to get that one point or two, which would actually be more to their liking theyre going to have to bring the same dominant game they had in their 4-2 victory in Detroit on Friday night. The Blackhawks were stellar; as Brian Campbell said, they recognized the situation at hand.

Rinse and repeat.

Its the biggest game. (Friday) was the biggest before that, and the one before that. Its been that way for a while, Campbell said. Were still in the same situation. Its probably going to be a playoff atmosphere so well be ready to go.

Theyll have to be. The Red Wings, frustrated with their performance in Detroit on Friday, will want to play spoiler to their Central Division rival. It will likely be a tight game, and as long as the Blackhawks get one point out of it, theyll be a happy group.

We need one point and were looking for two. Detroits going to want to come in and burst our bubble, Bryan Bickell said. We could come in (fifth) if other things happen. We want to get a win and not have to worry about Dallas.

Ah yes, Dallas. The Stars are two points behind Chicago and play in Minnesota later on Sunday. The Blackhawks dont want to leave the United Center on Sunday afternoon and have to hope, wish and pray that the Wild help them out.

So its up to them. Its game 82 and the Blackhawks hold their own postseason fate in their hands. Its the playoffs before the playoffs, and if the Blackhawks arent ready, theyll be no one last chance.

Our goal and focus all year was to get in. Weve been targeting it all year and its been a major battle for us, Quenneville said. But weve still put ourselves in a position where we have control, so lets get excited.

Bolland returns

Center Dave Bolland, who has been out with a concussion since March 9, practiced with his teammates on Saturday. Bolland, practicing one month to the date after he was sidelined by Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina, had non-contact status.

Despite practicing, Bolland was not made available to talk on Saturday. His teammates were encouraged by Bollands return.

He looks a lot better than the last time I saw him, for sure, said Bickell, whos been Bollands linemate often this season. Seeing him skating today, it was pretty huge. He looked pretty good for all the time he had off. Hopefully hell have a fast recovery.

Quenneville said Bolland looked all right.

Hes still not cleared for contact but he made real good progress over the last three or four days so well continue to see how hes progressing.

Bolland had made little progress for what seemed like weeks before improving this past week. Campbell said he didnt bother Bolland too much during his recovery.

Im not the type of guy who wants to ask too many questions on how hes feeling because Im sure he gets that 500 times a day, said Campbell, who added that his only concussion was when he was in juniors.

Campbell came back quickly from his concussion, which was dealt with in an interesting way.

My junior coach told me to have a beer and fall asleep and Id be all right. Hes old school, as you can tell, Campbell said. I played a few days later, but concussions werent the talk of everything back then.

Briefly
Patrick Sharp and Tomas Kopecky did not practice on Saturday but Quenneville said both were fine and just resting.

Troy Brouwer (right shoulder) did not practice Saturday. Quenneville said Brouwers condition is status quo. His progress is still day to day and well get a better idea when we see him on the ice. But hes not close to that right now.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Yes, the Blackhawks are scoreboard watching ... because it's part of the fun

Yes, the Blackhawks are scoreboard watching ... because it's part of the fun

When you look at the Western Conference standings, you'll notice that the Blackhawks have three teams to jump to get into the playoffs. It puts them in a tough spot because on one hand, what other teams do is beyond your control.

But it's also relevant to the Blackhawks and what they have to do to get in. Every team is scoreboard watching at this point of the season, especially when the games remaining list reaches the single digits.

"Yeah, I mean just generally watch games at night and obviously watch the teams that are close to us in the standings," Dylan Strome said. "You just keep an eye on them and see what happens. I think it's never a bad thing to be aware of what's going on around you. Obviously, first and foremost is us, but at the same time you gotta know where you stand and what you're fighting for. We all know that in this room but things can change each night in the NHL so I think it's good to be aware."

The Blackhawks were idle on Tuesday night, but the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota were not. In fact, they faced each other and both teams are ahead of the Blackhawks in the playoff picture. So in that instance, is there a sense of trying to mathematically figure out which team winning and losing would give them the better chance at making the playoffs?

"Yeah and then it usually goes into overtime," Strome laughed. "That's usually the way it goes sometimes. You never cheer for one team or for another. Last game of the year, maybe, if the standings are coming down to that, but I think right now with the fortune's kind of in our own hands. I think it's just about us taking care of business and giving it a good effort every night, and hopefully getting one or two [points] every night."

There's a delicate balance between exerting too much energy into looking at what other teams around you are doing and focusing on your own game and controlling what you can control. But this is part of the fun of being in a playoff hunt, and the hype surrounding it.

"I'll look," coach Jeremy Colliton acknowledged. "Depends how the day looks. I think it's fun. I love hockey, love watching fun games and certainly games that affect us are more interesting. But doesn't affect ... we're still focused on our own team and we said a few times, if we go on a great run here at the end it will work out. I believe that. I think things have a way of working out if you do your job. That'll be our focus here."

While there may not necessarily be direct rooting interest when channel surfing around the league, there is one thing Blackhawks players and coaches can agree on: anything but a three-point game.

"That's a fact," Colliton said. "No overtime."

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Hawks Talk Podcast: What will it take for Blackhawks to make playoffs?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What will it take for Blackhawks to make playoffs?

What will it take for the Chicago Blackhawks to earn a playoff spot with 10 games remaining? Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Charlie Roumeliotis discuss where the Blackhawks stand after a rough 3-2 loss in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks.

With Corey Crawford at the top of his game again, should the Blackhawks try to ride him into the playoffs? How have Jeremy Colliton’s line changes impacted Patrick Kane’s game? Plus, breakouts from Eric Gustafsson and Brendan Perlini have been huge for the Blackhawks during their recent streak of six straight games with a point. 

0:45 - Missed opportunity for Blackhawks against Canucks

2:45 – Hawks changing up lines has slowed down Patrick Kane

5:45 – Should the Blackhawks ride Corey Crawford while he’s hot?

8:00 – Hawks will need 13-15 points in final 10 games to get playoff spot

10:30 – Brendan Perlini has finally figured it out for Hawks

12:35 – Erik Gustafsson’s breakout year has been vital to Hawks success

15:35 – Dylan Sikura still hasn’t scored, but he’s been all over the ice

18:50 – Prediction time…will the Hawks make the playoffs?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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