GLENDALE Marian Hossas gear hung in a locker at Jobing.com Arena, a bit of symbolism and, perhaps, motivation.
And be it his absence, thanks to Raffi Torres 25-game-suspension-earning hit, or the fact that the Blackhawks playoff lives are at stake tonight, theyll need to find all the motivation they can.
The Blackhawks are fighting the uphill battle beginning tonight, as they try to stave off elimination to the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal matchup. And as news of Torres suspension came out, it was little consolation for some.
The reaction (to the suspension) is we lost Hoss, forward Andrew Brunette said. I dont think we get any satisfaction in X amount of games he was suspended. Were missing arguably our best player, and theres no satisfaction in that.
Jonathan Toews said the same.
We take a little satisfaction in seeing some justice there, but Marian Hossa is still at home, not feeling like himself, he said. It doesnt bring him back to our lineup and feel ready.
No, but there has to be motivation or make that desperation. For the second consecutive season theyre facing a steep climb, able to match Phoenix down the stretch in regulation but unable to stop them in three out of four overtimes. The energy level has to be immediate tonight.
Our mindset going into today is, after those two games (at home), we have to find some excitement in our team. We need more pace, more enthusiasm; we have to be all-out desperate tonight, coach Joel Quenneville said. If you look at the smaller picture, its comparable last year when we found a way to work ourselves back (against Vancouver). We have to get some positive encouragement; were at the point where talk isnt going to get it done.
But a pep talk still doesnt hurt. After Quenneville got done with his post-skate talk and the coaches left the ice, the Blackhawks remained and Toews did one of his own. Players werent willing to divulge what was said.
Thats between us as a team, Brendan Morrison said. But obviously hes saying the right things a leader does to get us ready.
Toews said theres some satisfaction in the Torres ruling. But if the Blackhawks dont use that, or their current situation in this series, as motivation, it all rings hollow.
The Blackhawks have all the motivation they need for tonight, be it in a fallen teammates symbolic locker or the brink of elimination. That drive has to come out tonight, or there is no more games for which to get motivated.
We need something to get excited about, Quenneville said. Coming off those two games, we need a win and thats where the excitements got to come from. Weve got to leave it out there.