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updated: 2/6/2012 7:34 PM

Blackhawks look to stop five-game skid

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  • Ray Emery will be in the net tonight for the Blackhawks when they take on the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

      Ray Emery will be in the net tonight for the Blackhawks when they take on the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Blackhawks are trying to convince even themselves that their five-game losing streak is a small blip in a long season filled with ups and downs.

But actions speak louder than words, which is why a win Tuesday night over the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center with Ray Emery in goal would go a long way in calming the concerns of Hawks fans everywhere.

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"It's obviously concerning, but you have to look at the big picture," defenseman Sean O'Donnell said. "It's 82 games. It's been five games, and before the five games I think we were tied for first in the NHL. Teams are going to have bumps like this.

"If you asked the (Super Bowl champion) Giants in Week 10 or 12 how their season was looking, it wasn't looking too good, and that turned out OK.

"You've got to keep you eye on the big ball here. Obviously we need to fix some things, but the personnel is in this room. We know we can play with elite teams. We just have to tighten up in certain areas."

Whether this stretch of adversity makes the Hawks a stronger team in the long run remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn't help that there still are six games remaining on their nine-game road trip.

"I really think we're going to be better for this," O'Donnell said. "It's going to kind of get us back to our roots and how we need to play defensively because that's been our Achilles heel the first 50 games."

As captain, Jonathan Toews is calling for calm as well, although he does warn this isn't the first tailspin of the season. The Hawks lost five of six as recently as late December into early January.

"We can't just brush it off and say other good teams do it and they survived," Toews said. "We're staying positive, but making excuses for ourselves isn't going to bail us out of this situation.

"We know we've got to be better, and we will be. We've got to look at it like this tough stretch here is going to make us better in the end.

"We have to look at the big picture sometimes and realize tough moments like this are what makes a team come together and appreciate the good moments."

In deciding to go with Emery against the Avs, coach Joel Quenneville made no secret the veteran has a clear opportunity to supplant the inconsistent Corey Crawford as the Hawks' No. 1 goalie for the stretch run.

"He's played very well basically every time he's been in the net for us this year," Quenneville said. "He's been consistent, he's been solid, predictable, dependable."

Quenneville admits he can't predict how the goalie situation is going to play out, which is pretty much what he has said the last two seasons about this time when the top job changed hands.

Antti Niemi took over the No. 1 job from Cristobal Huet late in the 2009-10 season, and it was Crawford grabbing the net from Marty Turco around this time last year.

Quenneville believes the circumstances aren't the same.

"It's different, I think, because both guys have had some stretches where they've been rock solid and dependable," Quenneville said.

"Crow's a young guy that's getting better. It's still a situation where we like the options and can go to either guy at any time.

"In Ray's situation, he hasn't had a great chance to run with it. Corey's had a lot of key games here recently. We'll see how it plays out."

tsassone@dailyherald.com

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