Bad luck is running through the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room in the form of a flu bug.
Patrick Kane is the latest to go down. He missed Monday and Tuesday practice sessions. If the bug is the same one Marian Hossa had, Hossa said he was down and out for about 48 hours before feeling better. Jake Dowell also missed time with the flu but returned to practice on Tuesday after missing Saturday’s game in Phoenix. The Hawks are hopeful Kane plays Wednesday night against Minnesota.
Hossa missed Friday’s game in Dallas but returned with one of his better efforts on Saturday in Phoenix. He was a force with the puck. Maybe it’s a sign of good things to come and it doesn’t hurt he’ll start playing with a natural center on Wednesday.
Dave Bolland says he won’t change his game to play with Hossa, but he knows this new line, with newly acquired Michael Frolik, can do some damage. Bolland and Hossa have played together previously without much success.
“Sometimes lines get changed around,” Bolland said after practice on Tuesday. “Things come and go. [If] it didn’t work out then maybe it will work out another time. When Hoss and I play together I think we have good chemistry. And with Frolik coming in, he has skill and can get that puck in the zone.”
Joel Quenneville wasn’t thinking offense as much as defense when he put that line together. The trio should see the opposing teams’ best line, which has been Bolland’s assignment for quite some time anyway.
Cliché time: The Hawks are saying all the right things about the sense of urgency which is needed for the final 26 games of the season. Some of it is the same rhetoric they’ve been talking about for quite a while, including the need to win at home. The Hawks are just 16-13 at the United Center.
“The next three games at home are very important,” Troy Brouwer said. “We’re looking to take all three games right now. Anything less than that right now is going to be a disappointment.”
Having said that, the Hawks have to be careful to stay focused. They’re four points behind a playoff spot. That can’t be made up in one night. Quenneville agreed his team can’t look past the small picture in favor of the big one.
“We have to really fine tune it, shift to shift. It has to start with every shift bringing it and sustaining the momentum in the game,” Quenneville said.
Though there are 26 games remaining, Wednesday night’s contest against the Wild seems to have more significance. The Hawks are back home and rested after a long, tough trip.
Minnesota played Tuesday night before traveling to Chicago. The Hawks had the Wild on the ropes when the teams played in the final game before the All-Star break, but the Hawks let them back in it. It was a brutal 4-2 loss at home. To lose again to a playoff contender at home would be demoralizing and devastating. The Hawks can’t afford any first-game-back-from-a-road-trip letdown.
Keith/Leddy: Three games ago, Quenneville surprisingly broke up his defensive pairings, including mainstays Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Keith is now paired with 19-year-old Nick Leddy, who’s improving with every game.
“He’s definitely very smart with the puck,” Keith said. “His skating ability and his poise allows him to get the puck out of trouble. When most guys would panic, he’s got the ability to still make a smart play to get the puck out. When I was put with him in training camp I knew he was good.”
Keith and Seabrook have been broken up several times over the last two seasons.
“It’s happened enough now I think it’s just a part of it,” Keith said. “Whatever we can do to get the team winning is the main thing.”
Wednesday’s game will start at 7:00 pm to accommodate Versus.
Weekend passes for the fourth annual Blackhawks Convention go on sale on Thurs., Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. The Blackhawks Convention will take place at the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Ave.) on Fri., July 15, Sat., July 16 and Sun., July 17, 2011. Fans interested in attending can purchase weekend passes through Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or online at chicagoblackhawks.com beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning.