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Blackhawks work on clearing zone

The Chicago Blackhawks held a nearly-full team practice on Friday afternoon in advance of their Game 5 showdown on Saturday against the Nashville Predators.

Norris Trophy finalist Duncan Keith, his partner Brent Seabrook, and shot blocking expert Brent Sopel were given the day off. Ben Eager didn’t participate in drills due to illness.

The Hawks still have work to do if they want to get past the Predators. Despite the win, if you thought they spent a little too much time in their own end in Game 4, you’re not alone.

“They’ve had more zone time than we’re accustomed to,” coach Joel Quenneville said after practice. “Their forecheck has been aggressive. If there’s no play, getting out any which way is what we are looking for. Those exits are something we talk about a lot.”

The Blackhawks worked on exactly that on Friday with a boisterous Quenneville barking out orders. At one point, defenseman Dustin Byfuglien put an outlet pass up the middle of the ice and Quenneville quickly stopped the play and ordered it to be done again. This time Byfuglien went up the boards and the rest of the team cheered.

“He’ll get it eventually,” Colin Fraser joked after practice. “He always does.”

In all seriousness, getting the puck out of the zone has been an issue and it’s put a heavier workload on Antti Niemi. The Hawks were outshot in Games 3 and 4, something that never happened in back to back games in the regular season. It’s another indication this series has been a difficult one for the No. 2 seed.

“[Despite getting shutout] they still created a bunch of chances,” John Madden said. “We still have some work to do, we have some cleaning up to do. We have to be way better than we were in the last game.”

Madden spoke of momentum. It has shifted game to game in the series so far.

“Usually the team that wins the game, has it going into the next game and you have to fight to get it back,” Madden said. “We did a good job of that in the first period.”

Brian Campbell said he was feeling fine a day after returning to the lineup for the first time since March 14. After admitting he moved up his timetable because the Hawks were behind in the series, Campbell is looking forward to his first home playoff game of the postseason.

“I’m looking forward to [Sunday],” Campbell said. “The excitement of just skating out there at the start of the game. That’s playoff hockey.”

Campbell said his shoulder “will cause problems probably for a while” but he almost never feels the rib injury he suffered along with the broken clavicle.

“Only when I squeeze,” Campbell said.

There was a moment of confusion in Game 4 that was cleared up on Friday. At one point, during a break, the referees were huddling with each other after talking to the Predators bench. Then they went to talk with some Hawks, including Brent Sopel. It turns out the Predators were questioning if some extra padding Sopel was wearing on one of his gloves was legal.

“It’s something that has been approved by the NHL,” Sopel explained. “A lot of guys don’t do what I do.”

Sopel is referring to his shot blocking, which the Predators thought he was getting an edge with, by wearing the extra protection.

“[They] thought I had a trick up my sleeve,” Sopel said.

According to Sopel, if it hadn’t been approved by the league, the penalty would have been switching gloves and not time in the box.

--The Blackhawks will air “The Best of Blackhawks TV” Sunday on NBC, before Game 5. The special, from 1:30-2 p.m., will include a behind-the-scenes look at the team’s trip to the Jay Leno show, as well as Patrick Kane’s Olympic experience.