CALGARY -- The Chicago Blackhawks hit the practice ice on Sunday before a team party to watch the Super Bowl.
Coming off a solid game in a loss to the Vancouver Canucks Friday that produced nothing positive in the standings, the Hawks are looking for a repeat effort Monday against the Calgary Flames -- with better results.
“These next few games are important,” Dave Bolland said. “Really, every game is important from this point on. We can’t take games lightly. Every night we go out there it’s business.”
Without playing on Saturday, the Hawks dropped a couple places, to 11th, in the ever-tight Western Conference.
“We need to win hockey games,” Marian Hossa said. “It doesn’t matter if you play well but lose by one goal. That doesn’t count.”
Joel Quenneville and his coaching staff was able to scout the Flames up close, as they hosted the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, losing in a shootout.
“Disappointed it was a three-point game,” Quenneville said. “They’re playing well. They seem like there is a lot more energy.”
Calgary, left for dead just a few weeks ago, is 12-3-4 in their past 19 games, one point ahead of the Hawks in the standings, but they’ve played two more games than the Hawks.
“He’s got the net back,” Quenneville said. “He had maybe one game over a long stretch where he wasn’t great, but he’s been really good.”
Faceoff issues: The Hawks lost 62 percent of their faceoffs Friday against the Canucks, including some crucial draws during power play time for Vancouver. On Tuesday in Columbus, they won only 44 percent. They’ve dropped below 50 percent on the season, ranking 19th in the NHL. Last year, they finished the season third in the league.
No one represents their struggles in the circle more than Bolland. A key defensive player, he’s a 44 percent winner for the year. Friday, he hit rock bottom, winning just 5 of 22.
“Sometimes things go your way, sometimes things don’t go your way so you just keep working hard at faceoffs,” he said after practice on Sunday.
Bolland downplayed his struggles but said he works on it every day. His coach didn’t hesitate when asked if he needs to be better.
“Certainly, yes,” Quenneville said. “Over time he needs to be getting stronger and more educated, technique wise or [about] the guy he’s going against. We’d like to see a trend where we’re seeing some improvement, but he’s coming off a couple tough games.
“I still think we put him out there on faceoffs on the left side probably more than we should but sometimes that’s the matchup. At the end of the day, that should be an area where he should be getting better.”
Even with Toews on the ice, the Hawks like the right-handed Bolland to take faceoffs in the circle to the right of their goaltender. They may have to re-think that strategy if Bolland continues to struggle.
Ryan Johnson returned to full practice on Sunday and declared himself ready to play, if needed. Johnson hurt his right knee in a collision against Minnesota, the last game before the All-Star break. “It was my first full skate with a brace on,” Johnson said of Sunday’s practice. “It happened in the first period when Mikko Koivu kind of rolled on it. I finished the game but as it went on it tightened up on me. I could hardly walk the first couple days of the [All-Star] break.”
John Scott is joining the team in Calgary. He missed Friday’s game against Vancouver due to illness.
Native cheesehead Jake Dowell is excited to watch his Packers in the Super Bowl but admits he’s torn if he’s in a pool and needs the Steelers to score for him to win.“Depends what it is to win,” Dowell said with a laugh. “It depends on how bad I need whatever it is I’m going to win.
Quenneville was aware of the news that Peter Forsberg was signing with the Colorado Avalanche. Quenneville coached Forsberg in Colorado for nine games in the regular season and seven more in the playoffs in the 2007-2008 season. “He does things that no one else can do,” Quenneville said. “Forsberg, on a regular basis, does things that you’ve never seen before. He’s fun to watch.”