There's been so much talk about how the Blackhawks need to use their six-game road trip as an opportunity to bond as a group that the most important thing might be getting a bit overlooked.
The Hawks need to start winning games.
Contact information ( * required )
Blackhawks Game Day
Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place, 8:30 p.m. Wednesday
TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Game notes: The Hawks will be looking for some payback after losing twice to the last place Oilers at the United Center. Edmonton has lost four of five since beating the Hawks 2-1 on Nov. 7 and has been outscored 26-10 in those five games. Marty Turco starts in goal for the Hawks.
Season series: Oilers lead 2-0.
Next: Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome, 8:30 p.m. Friday.
The defending Stanley Cup champ open their circus trip Wednesday night in Edmonton with a record of 9-9-2 after the first quarter of the season.
"We know a .500 record is not going to get us in the playoffs," defenseman Brian Campbell said.
"It's a trip we're looking forward to, but we need results as well," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
There should be plenty of motivation to beat the Oilers, who have walked into the United Center already this season and beat the Hawks twice, including a 7-4 drubbing on Oct. 29.
That's half of Edmonton's 4 wins for the season.
"That's a team we handled pretty well last year, and I think we thought we were going to throw our sticks out and it was going to happen again," Campbell said. "They're a different team and we're a different team so you can't rely on past experiences and think it's going to be easy."
The Oilers are in a rut, having just returned home from losing four of five on the road where they were outscored 26-10, a trip that began with a 2-1 win over the Hawks.
"They came in here a couple times and they're points we can't have back," Quenneville said. "You'd like to start the road trip on a positive way. We've got to make sure that's what we're thinking; not payback. Let's be smart about it."
The Oilers are a young and dangerous team with speed to match the Hawks, but defensively they have allowed 66 goals, most in the league before Tuesday's games.
"They've played well against us," Hawks winger Viktor Stalberg said. "They've got a lot of young guys with a lot of skill and they play well off the rush. We have to play a little smarter and make sure we don't turn the puck over."
The Hawks are coming off what they considered a positive weekend, taking 3 out of 4 points against Nashville and Anaheim, and hope to ride that momentum into their six games away from the UC.
"We left our building on a good note and hopefully we'll be in a better spot when we come back in a few weeks," Stalberg said.
For Quenneville, the 5-7 record at home is the most troubling part of the first quarter of the season.
"It wasn't the start we were looking for," he said. "The last 10-game segment (4-5-1) wasn't very good for us, but the thing that sticks out for us is our home record. I think the last couple-three games we like the trend. The urgency has been in the right direction and we have to build off that."
The best way to build a solid foundation for the six-game trip would be to take advantage of the first two games against the struggling Oilers and Flames.
The Hawks are 8-0 in Edmonton and Calgary the last two seasons.
"Part of it is we have a lot of western Canadian kids and they get to be home in front of friends and family and it gives you some incentive as well," Quenneville said.