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updated: 1/10/2012 12:14 AM

Hawks looking ahead, not back, after rough week

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  • Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, here blocking a shot by Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom on Sunday night at the United Center, said the team is focused on what's ahead, not the recent struggles.

      Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, here blocking a shot by Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom on Sunday night at the United Center, said the team is focused on what's ahead, not the recent struggles.
    Associated Press

 
 

It's a new week for the Blackhawks, and it can't get get any worse than the last one when they dropped from first place in the Western Conference to fifth thanks to a four-game losing streak.

"We've just got to focus on this next half of the season, the next part, and try to get better every day," goalie Corey Crawford said. "It's hard to stay in first place all year long. There's not many teams that do that. When it drops it's just going to make you play harder and work harder to get back up there."

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Coach Joel Quenneville believes playing better team defense is going to be the key to turning the losing streak around.

"Across the board we're looking to make sure we're playing the perfect team game," Quenneville said. "Defense-first attack and defense-first mentality is what we need."

With Patrick Sharp out for the next 3-4 weeks with a broken wrist, Quenneville said rookies Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw and Ben Smith could get increased ice time.

Smith was recalled from Rockford on Monday when Sharp went on injured reserve.

"It's an opportunity for us to prove ourselves," Shaw said.

"It's misfortune for him, but if we go out there and keep working good things will happen."

Defense depth:

There has been a lot of talk about the Hawks looking to acquire another defenseman to play in the top five.

General manager Stan Bowman has even admitted that's what he's looking for.

So where does this leave Sean O'Donnell, Sami Lepisto and John Scott, who have been rotating in and out of the sixth spot?

"The caliber of five, six, seven, eight, it's an area if you can improve, that's something every team talks about," Joel Quenneville said.

"For the most part Duncs (Duncan Keith) and Seabs (Brent Seabrook) have been really playing well recently, and Nik (Hjalmarsson) and Nick (Leddy) have been playing well together.

"The other pair has been a little bit inconsistent, not their play, but consistent being in the lineup."

Not again:

For the second time this season, the Hawks will face a team playing its first game under a new coach.

The Blue Jackets come to the United Center tonight after firing coach Scott Arniel on Monday and replacing him with assistant Todd Richards on an interim basis.

Earlier this season the Hawks lost 3-0 at St. Louis in Ken Hitchcock's first game after taking over for the fired Davis Payne.

"How about the timing of this?" Joel Quenneville said. "It's nothing to joke about, being a coach, but at the same time it's pretty unusual."

Still out:

Marcus Kruger will miss his seventh straight game tonight with concussion symptoms.

Even though Kruger is back on the ice for practice, he still hasn't been cleared for contact and needs to pass further testing.

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