By Ryan Bright
PHILADELPHIA -- Immediately following their heartbreaking loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks turned their attention to Wednesday.
They were focused on the St. Louis Blues.
“If we thought the game tonight was tough and physical, it’s going to be a whole other story tomorrow night,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We’ve got to turn the page and be ready and play like we know we can.”
As it stands, the Blackhawks sit eight points behind the Blues for the top spot in the Central Division with 13 games left to play. According to Toews, it’s time to get serious.
“No excuses,” he said. “I don’t care what you’re carrying into this game or this week. We’ve got to find a way to be better. If we play better and we sharpen up on little things, we’ve got a lot of skill and we’ve got a lot of ability; it will take care of itself. We’ll find a way to get points.”
Not only are the Blackhawks facing the league-leading Blues, a red-hot division rival. They are doing it on the unfortunate end of a back-to-back. The Blues have been waiting since Monday, when they picked up a 3-1 road win over the Winnipeg Jets.
“We’ve played back-to-backs all season long,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. “For whatever reason, they like to give us lots of them. I think we have the most in the league, maybe. So we’re used to it, and we’re used to that type of schedule with this team. Obviously, it’s a tough game. We’ve got a tough team coming in that always plays hard.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who is going for win No. 700, isn’t concerned about the schedule. His only concern is that his club is up for the challenge.
“I think sometimes you get some scheduled games in your favor and sometimes you’re against it a little bit, but you find a way,” he said. “Obviously, it’ll be a huge game for us and it will be exciting to get to play these guys. I see our team responding and being excited about that game.”
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But while being prepared for a battle is one thing, Toews doesn’t want his team thinking about division titles or Stanley Cup dreams. The Blackhawks have lost three of their last four and have a losing record in their last 11 games.
“One thing at a time,” said the captain. “We’ve got to play better. One game at a time. One win at a time. We’ll be frustrated about tonight and we’ll try and make things better tomorrow night. We’ve got an opportunity to do that. We can start with a big win tomorrow night against a good team, and a team that we’re chasing. We’ll worry about that for now.”