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updated: 3/27/2011 7:30 PM

Hawks know they need a strong finishing kick to reach playoffs

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  • Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews, right, checks Anaheim Ducks center Saku Koivu into the boards, during the first period of their NHL hockey game Saturday, March 26, 2011 in Chicago.

      Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews, right, checks Anaheim Ducks center Saku Koivu into the boards, during the first period of their NHL hockey game Saturday, March 26, 2011 in Chicago.
    Associated Press

  • Chicago Blackhawks center Michael Frolik, left, of Czechoslovakia, shoots on Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov of Russia, during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Sunday, March 20, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz.

      Chicago Blackhawks center Michael Frolik, left, of Czechoslovakia, shoots on Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov of Russia, during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Sunday, March 20, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz.
    Associated Press

 
 

The next challenge for the Blackhawks is to keep their season from unraveling with two weeks to go.

The Hawks have lost Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland to injuries and are coming off a bitter 2-1 loss to Anaheim on home ice Saturday night that dropped them to eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

Now they've got to head out on the road for three games -- a difficult task considering the trip starts with back-to-back tests at Detroit tonight and Boston on Tuesday.

"We need to get some points on this road trip," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday. "There's some disappointment today, but we've got to be excited about the challenge ahead of us. It's a great opportunity to move ahead and we have to take care of business."

The Hawks have 88 points with eight games to play with it looking more and more as if it's going to take more than 96 points to make the playoffs in the West.

"We want to keep winning games, that the biggest thing," winger Patrick Kane said. "Maybe we go .500, and that's not good enough. Maybe that puts us at 96 points but we don't get in. Hopefully we'll be better than .500.

"We just have to worry about Detroit right now and try to take 2 points there. It's a tough schedule remaining, obviously. We have them three times and a couple tough games against Boston and Tampa Bay."

The Hawks are only 1 point ahead of ninth-place Dallas and 2 in front of Calgary.

"I think 96, 97, 98 -- that's a realistic number that you're going to need," Quenneville said.

The Red Wings come into tonight's game banged up but comfortably 7 points ahead of the Hawks. Center Pavel Datsyuk (foot) and goalie Jimmy Howard (sprained shoulder) won't play, but Johan Franzen is expected to return from his injury. Joey MacDonald starts in goal.

The Hawks were about as down as they've been all season after the loss to Anaheim, but with this a playoff-type feel to these games it's necessary to have a short-term memory like in the postseason.

"We have to get upbeat again in here and start worrying about what's ahead of us," Kane said. "It's not a game we're going to get back.

"I'm sure Detroit wants to send a message to us that they don't want us to make the playoffs."

Quenneville shuffled his lines at practice Sunday but said he wasn't sure if that's how things would look against Detroit.

Troy Brouwer was back on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Kane while rookie Marcus Kruger, with all of two NHL games under his belt, centered for Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell.

"I think potentially as we go along here you find out a little bit more and a little bit more about him," Quenneville said of Kruger. "I think there is some upside offensively with him. His overall thought process is exactly what you look for in a centerman. I'm getting a little more comfortable with him in where you can use him and how often you can use him."

Michael Frolik was back at wing on the third line with center Jake Dowell and Tomas Kopecky. The fourth line was Ryan Johnson, Fernando Pisani and Viktor Stalberg.

"There could be a makeup of more of a traditional checking line," Quenneville said.

With Bolland out, the Toews line drew the assignment of checking Anaheim's big three of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, but the matchup didn't work because Kane and Stalberg are more offensive than defensive players.

Quenneville can use either the Dowell line or Johnson line to check.

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