<
>

Quenneville hopes for two reliable goalies

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- In a huge game Friday against the top team in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks, Joel Quenneville has elected to go with Marty Turco in net for his Chicago Blackhawks.

Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, the first thing to ask is: Why?

Turco did win in Columbus, but this is a step up in class by a wide margin. Corey Crawford was seemingly the No. 1 goalie, and he’s already won in Vancouver. Still, the fact remains Crawford struggled right before the All-Star break.

Quenneville said he wasn’t making any definitive statements with the move.

“No, No,” Quenneville stated after an evening practice in Vancouver on Thursday. “We were coming out of the break there…you give him a chance to take it and go a little bit here. At the same time their play will dictate a lot of things we do as well.”

In other words, he’s giving Turco a chance to get back in the mix before the Hawks hit the stretch run. Is that a bad thing? Only if it costs them points in the standings.

There is a reason Turco lost his job. Pucks have squeezed by him all year, as one did to open the scoring in Columbus. Unless he all of a sudden plays bigger, it’s hard to know where this is going. There is nothing wrong with giving him a start here or there but unless there is a major change in his play, it’ll eventually cost the Hawks.

“I would love both goalies playing great night in and night out,” Quenneville said. “I would love to make tough decisions like that.”

Maybe it’s as simple as that. Instead of completely relying on a rookie goaltender the rest of the way, Quenneville wants to have options. Some might find it curious that he’s tinkering when the Hawks are fighting for their playoff lives while others might like the idea of trying to get Turco back to a level of play where there is confidence in him.

But Vancouver poses the toughest test in the league and Crawford has already won at Rogers Arena, so Quenneville has set himself up to be second guessed by not playing his best in net.

Vancouver dominance

The Canucks are 17-3-5 at home this season, good for 39 points and tied for best in the league. But the Hawks delivered one of those regulation losses in a resounding 7-1 victory back in November.

So the question stands, are they a measuring stick for the Hawks or are the Hawks, who have dominated the Canucks recently, a major test for Vancouver?

“Both ways,” Patrick Kane said. “We like playing out here in the West. Everyone is excited about hockey. You don’t see that in the Midwest except in Chicago. As for the Canucks, they are having a successful year, it would be nice to keep their number here and keep winning games against them.”

As of Thursday, the Canucks had scored 175 goals on the season, tops in the NHL.

“They are playing great,” Turco said. “They’re flying, they’re playing their systems as well as probably their coaches would ever want.”

And not to be overlooked, the Canucks are doing it on the other end as well. They’re coming off a 6-0 win in Phoenix.

“Their missing some defensemen and all of a sudden they are pitching shutouts on the road,” ,” Quenneville said. “Across the board they have a lot of enthusiasm in their lineup right now. They’re playing a fast game. It’s not just the Sedin twins you have to worry about.”

On top of all that, they started five rookies in the Phoenix game and didn’t miss a beat.

“They’ve been the best team pretty much the entire year, we have to try to get to where they are by beating them,” Vancouver native Troy Brouwer said. “And every team looks at how well they are doing by how they play the Canucks, so we’re no different.”

Slappers

John Scott did not make the trip due to illness. Joel Quenneville said he would join the team when feeling better.

Ryan Johnson sat out Thursday’s practice and continues to be day-to-day with a lower body injury.

• Quenneville would not commit to Jordan Hendry or Nick Boynton as his number six defenseman on Friday.

• The Hawks changed their schedule due to the weather problems in Chicago. After practicing in Columbus on Wednesday and flying home, Quenneville decided to fly to Vancouver first on Thursday, and then conduct practice. The Hawks usually skate at home and then fly out. They skated from 5:00-5:45 pm, PST, one of the later practice times of the year. Due to travel concerns, traveling media were invited on the Hawks charter for the second consecutive flight.