Hawk Talk: Monday Morning Music City Musings

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Hawk Talk: Monday Morning Music City Musings

Monday, April 26, 20101:45 PM

By Chris BodenCSNChicago.com
Marian Hossa was on the ice, but Jonathan Toews and Brent Sopel were not.

Hossa expressed relief over NHL disciplinary boss Colin Campbell ruling he shouldn't be suspended following Saturday's hit on Dan Hamhuis, who was disappointed both will be on the ice tonight for Game 6. Predators coach Barry Trotz accepted the verdict, and was ready to move on.

That's what he's been telling his players to do the last couple of days since the roof almost came off the United Center four minutes into overtime on Hossa's goal that put the Hawks in the series driver's seat. He told us after the morning skate that, emotionally, his team was at "Gound Zero" in the locker room. He believes he's gotten them to the point that it's set aside and that they'll give the Blackhawks their very best tonight.

He may also finally have leading scorer Patric Hornqvist available again. Trotz says Hornqvist will skate in pregame (as he did this morning), and that it'll literally be a "gametime decision." Hornqvist was hopeful in the locker room, but said he would not play with his upper body injury unless he's 100 percent. Glad Brian Campbell didn't feel the same way.

Trotz also says he'll try some new things on that 0-for-21 power play -- that maybe he and his coaching staff have been too stubborn in their ways, and are ready to tweak a thing or two. The addition of Hornqvist would certainly help, as he also led the club with 10 power play goals.

The man who's had a big hand in that penalty-kill success -- Sopel -- was given the morning off to help his body prepare for a few more blocked shots tonight. Joel Quenneville says he'll play, as will Toews, who soldiered on after his leg appeared to take a bad hit along the boards Saturday.

It was difficult to gauge from the locker room this morning jumping from interview to interview the team's mood. It seemed pretty serious. And it's hard to even tell whether scoring the first goal or two might have an effect on these Predators. Maybe at this point, it would have a greater influence than at any other point in the series, based on Saturday. But keep in mind that overcoming a 3-1 deficit in Game 5 was as impressive as their inability to close it out was unimpressive. They seemed to have gained the Hawks' respect, as well they should. Letting a series rest on Game 7 -- even at home -- is no guarantee, especially against this team if they bounce back tonight, and especially in this postseason.

One thing the local media draws on is a game played on March 11 in San Jose. The Predators took a 4-2 lead into the third period, allowed six Sharks goals, and lost, 8-5. The naysayers thought it was the start of their slippery slope in the competitive West as other teams outside the top eight appeared to be stepping up their games. Trotz's Troupe responded with a six-game win streak, starting with wins in Anahaeim and L.A. So before the Hawks start planning for a rematch with Vancouver ... first things first. If the Predators are down, they may as well knock 'em out and expect the elimination game to be, as they say, the toughest one to get.

I'll be on from Bridgestone Arena on "SportsNite" at 6:30, "Blackhawks Pregame Live" at 7:30, and in-game interviews during Game 6, starting at 8:00 on Comcast SportsNet Plus, when we expect to talk with John Madden along the bench just before the puck-drop.

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Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

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USA TODAY

Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

PITTSBURGH – Well, that looked more familiar, didn’t it?

The Blackhawks put talk into action on Wednesday night, storming out to an early lead and never letting up in a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re sitting in a good spot right now, sporting a nine-point lead over the Minnesota Wild – yes the Wild still has that game in hand – and, with five games remaining, they once again played the complete game they’d been missing.

The schedule doesn’t let up, so let’s get to the notables.

What Worked: The Blackhawks’ first period. If there’s such thing as a statement 20 minutes, the Blackhawks made it in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins made a bad pass, the Blackhawks turned it into an opportunity and, a few times, a goal. The Blackhawks had a similarly sharp first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. On Wednesday, however, they didn’t lose any steam later.

What Didn’t Work: The power play. Yeah, you really have to reach to find something that didn’t work for the Blackhawks in this one. Their power play, however, didn’t do much. Their best chance on it was a Jonathan Toews shot on their second power play; that shot was blocked before it got to Marc-Andre Fleury. Their third power play, which came on a phantom tripping call on Conor Sheary, was their quietest of the night.

Star of the game: Tanner Kero. The kid’s been alright at second-line center, and he did a little bit of everything on Wednesday night. Kero had five shots on goal, the secondary assist on Artemi Panarin’s early goal and added a breakaway goal of his own early in the third period. He also won five of 11 faceoffs. Centering Patrick Kane and Panarin could be daunting but in his short time there, Kero’s handling it very well.

He Said It: “It’s a nice opportunity that he’s taken advantage of in a short amount of time. You get a little more defensive responsibility. The upside with him is we wanted him to get better offensively as well, so it’s been a good couple of games.” Coach Joel Quenneville on Kero.

By the Numbers: 

850 – Career coaching victories for Quenneville.

524 – Career goals for Marian Hossa, who scored his 25th of the season late in the first period.

39 – Time, in seconds, in which the Blackhawks scored two goals late in the first period (Marcus Kruger at 19:05 and Marian Hossa at 19:44).

6 – Consecutive victories for the Blackhawks over the Penguins. They’ve outscored the Penguins 20-8 over that span.