Hawks look to keep hot stretch going vs. Preds

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Hawks look to keep hot stretch going vs. Preds

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
12:54 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

In this every-game-is-big time of year, the Chicago Blackhawks have another such contest tonight against the Nashville Predators.

And if the Blackhawks can take anything into this tilt, its that their last 40 minutes against St. Louis on Monday has to translate into 60 minutes tonight.

Thats the way weve got to play, with that intensity, that emotion, said coach Joel Quenneville, referring to the Blackhawks 5-3 comeback vs. the Blues. We have to build off those last 40 minutes. We need everybody going, whether its blocking shots, going hard in puck area or being tenacious. Those are the things we have to do right to the end here.

The Blackhawks are ninth in the Western Conference, one of three teams with 68 points. Four in front of them have 70, but a victory tonight could put the Blackhawks back in seventh place.

But it wont be easy. The Predators are just as hungry right now, and they play a stifling brand of hockey that the Blackhawks will have to try and break through. Chicago is 2-1-2 against Nashville this season.

We have to show patience; dont show frustration, Quenneville said. We have to play a hard and simple game. We have to rely on your power play to be effective. Its going to be a tight affair and we have to be willing to play that way.

Briefly

Nick Boynton did not skate on Thursday morning. Quenneville said he has an upper body injury.

Defenseman Nick Leddy was recalled from Rockford on Thursday morning.

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

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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