Hawks preparing to see Avs in playoffs

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville can do the math like anyone else.

He knows the Blackhawks are nearly guaranteed to play the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs.

“We’ve been thinking like that for a while now,” Quenneville said prior to the Hawks' game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. “I think probably both teams look like it’s inevitable.”

The Blackhawks and Avalanche both have little chance of catching the Central-leading St. Louis Blues, who have 111 points with six games remaining. The Avalanche are in second place with 104 points with six games left, and the Blackhawks are third with 101 points with five games to play.

Quenneville hasn’t lost hope, though, in surpassing the Avalanche and earning home-ice advantage in the first round.

“It’s certainly the objective,” Quenneville said. “We’ve had a couple of games here where it looked like we were going to close the gap and haven’t. So we’ll keep doing what we have to do to make it -- to hopefully get it to a realistic number where we can get it, close it within less than two. So we’ll do what we have to do, but we’ll see.”

Colorado hasn't given the Blackhawks much of a chance to make a move. The Avalanche have won their last five games. They scored a goal in the final minute of the third period Thursday to force overtime against the New York Rangers and won in a shootout.

“They make it the happen for their favor,” Quenneville said. “They take nothing for granted. They make their chances, so you got to give them credit.

“Got a lot of respect for them. You watch them play. Watched them again last night. They found a way to get two points. … They got a lot of weaponry. They got a lot of skill. They got a lot of talent. It’s a dangerous team.”

The Blackhawks and Avalanche met five times this regular season. The Avalanche won three times in regulation and once in overtime. The Blackhawks won once in regulation.

Despite all of the additional time to scout the Avalanche, Quenneville didn’t believe it all really made a difference.

“I think both teams we’ve played enough of one another,” Quenneville said. “I think there’s respect for either team. I think all that scouting, all of that advance stuff, basically [after] the first period, you’re going off that.”