Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011Posted: 4:20 PM
By Tracey Myers
CALGARY, Alberta The Chicago Blackhawks may have been a bit surprised when they looked at the standings this morning: the reigning Stanley Cup champions are in 11th place in the West.
Yes, there are miniscule points separating them from the top eight, but there it was nonetheless: Blackhawks 11th.
When you looked at the standings and (coach Joel Quenneville) said it this morning at the meeting, you could see the disbelief on guys faces, Troy Brouwer said.
It is a little hard to grasp for the Blackhawks, who have lost three of their last four entering Monday nights tilt against the Calgary Flames. They are on the outside looking in, and its unfamiliar territory. Still, the Blackhawks are keeping it in perspective.
Its not discouraging for us because of the way we played, but we have to continue to that aspect of our play and going into the next couple of games well be successful, Brouwer said.
The Blackhawks have been a calm bunch since Fridays loss, despite bad calls and another missed chance at two points. But theyre looking at the games ahead of them, not behind.
You look at the standings, everyones really close and we just happen to be in 11th place. Its not a position you want to be in, especially after the 82 games are over. But we have about 30 games left and playing some teams were competing with, too, Patrick Kane said. Every games important. Weve got some tough games ahead of us but I think if we put it all together we should be OK.
Itll start again on Monday against the Flames. As of Sunday, Calgary was one point ahead of the Blackhawks thanks to one of those three-point games about which Quenneville often talks, the Flames 4-3 shootout victory over Los Angeles on Saturday.
Those type of games, and the Blackhawks inability to finish late, have led to 11th place.
We didnt take advantage of a lot of games, 11 games tied or leading in the third period and we come up with no points, Quenneville said. We have to be better no matter where we play here on out.
The Blackhawks were still feeling encouraged by their level of play in Fridays 4-3 loss to Vancouver. If they want extra motivation for Monday, they can always think back on their Nov. 20 game here, when the Flames beat them 7-2. Then again, just getting back into the top eight is motivation alone.
Were sitting in 11th place today. We can all sit around and panic but thats not really the kind of group we have, Kane said. Everyones confident with what we have in here what we can do when we play at the top of our game.
Patrick Kane just has to deal with and work through his left ankle sprain he suffered on Dec. 5. He was reminded of that on Friday morning when he went down for a few minutes prior to the Blackhawks game against Vancouver.
With this injury, pain goes through the roof for a minute, two minutes, even five minutes sometimes. That one in practice the other day, I definitely felt it right away, after I was OK with it, said Kane, who looked fine in playing 21-and-a-half minutes and taking seven shots on goal -- that night.
If its a nerve or something, I dont know what it is. The pains tough for a bit, Kane said. And it messes with your head because youre down for a little bit and then a couple minutes later youre fine. But Id rather have it that way than the other way around.
Troy Brouwer took Marian Hossas place on the Blackhawks top power-play unit at Sundays practice. Quenneville said it was just a little adjustment, a little alteration.
Our power play couldve been difference in the game (against Vancouver), Quenneville said. It could be (Brouwer providing more net presence). Weve had it before, but either way we need the net presence.
Corey Crawford will start against Calgary on Monday night, making his first start since suffering a 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 25. Crawford doesnt anticipate any rustiness after the layoff.
Ive been practicing hard and getting ready the best I can. Thats the only thing I can do is make sure Im good and battle hard, he said. Ill try to do the best I can and hopefully Ill bring my best game.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.