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Hawks wasted no time prepping for Wild

ST. LOUIS -- As his team returned to the bench to start the third period of Saturday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues, coach Joel Quenneville stayed in the Chicago Blackhawks’ dressing room, watching television.

He wanted to see the final minute of the Minnesota Wild’s victory at the Colorado Avalanche, which clinched eighth place for the Wild and earned them a trip to Chicago for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

When Quenneville got back to the bench, he informed his players who they would be playing beginning this week.

“They’re a dangerous team and we expect a real tough series, and we can’t wait for it to start,” he said. “They work. They play tight.

“Every game has been close when we faced them, and we expect that as we go along. Playoff hockey, every game is going to be tight. We’ve got to find a way.”

At the start of the night the Blackhawks had three possible first-round opponents -- Minnesota, Detroit or Columbus, depending on how games involving all three of those teams turned out. Detroit ended up finishing seventh, and Columbus was the odd team out.

Knowing who they would play in the first round was far more important to the Blackhawks than the loss to St. Louis, which needed the win to clinch fourth place and home ice for the first round.

Defenseman Nick Leddy was one of only a handful of regulars to play the game, and he knows the next game for the Blackhawks will be a far different environment.

“Every team in this league is dangerous and you got to bring it every game,” he said. “The couple times we played them they gave us a run for our money so we’ll definitely have to come prepared.

“They play a good team game. They’ve got some blue-line quickness and they capitalize on chances, so we’ll have to play good defense, team defense, like we have been.”

The schedule for the first round series will be announced on Sunday.