While many fans were sleeping Wednesday night, the Blackhawks clinched the Western Conference title and home ice in the first three rounds of the playoffs when Columbus beat Anaheim.
That leaves only one goal for the Hawks: holding off Pittsburgh and clinching first place overall and the President’s Trophy that goes with it — which would mean home ice throughout the playoffs.
“It’s important to us,” goalie Corey Crawford said. “We want to get home ice, that’s something we’ve been battling for all year.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said there still are things to accomplish.
“We’re still moving forward,” Quenneville said. “I know we’re in a pretty good spot there. We were hopeful that would’ve been achieved whether we had to do it or hopefully over time it would’ve got done.
“But I think we still want to keep moving forward, whether you’re looking at Pittsburgh or I’m still looking at how we play. That’s the focus and the concentration. We’re watching a couple games last night, some real interesting third periods last night late, so you never know what can happen.”
Sharp a no go:
Patrick Sharp will miss his third straight game Friday and 15th in the last 17 because of a shoulder injury.
“I’m not playing, but I feel pretty good in practice skating,” Sharp said. “It’s a frustrating process for me personally, but we’re getting closer. I hope to play some games before heading into the playoffs.
“It’s going to be a tough, long run in the playoffs and it’s always physical and intense and I’ll be ready to play. I’d just like to get in there during the regular season and play a couple down the stretch.”
The last time the Hawks faced Nashville on April 7, they basically knocked the Predators out of the playoffs chase in the West with a 5-3 win at the United Center.
The Predators are back Friday to play the Hawks for the fourth time in nine games with basically nothing to play for.
“There are still guys there who are battling for a spot on their team for next year,” Corey Crawford said. “Guys still have pride. They still want to win hockey games. They’re still a competitive team. It can be a dangerous game of we start thinking that they have nothing to play for and they’re not going to come ready.”
Emery out, Hutton up:
Ray Emery has a lower body injury and is considered day-to-day, according to Joel Quenneville.
Carter Hutton was recalled from Rockford to replace Emery on the roster. The 27-year-old Hutton was 26-22-1 at Rockford with a 2.72 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.
Emery will try to skate on Friday morning but won’t dress as Corey Crawford’s backup. There’s still a chance Emery starts Saturday against Phoenix.
Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Rozsival missed practice Thursday for maintenance days, according to Joel Quenneville.
Hjalmarsson will play Friday against Nashville.
“I think at this time we want to make sure we’re smart about rest,” Quenneville said. “Maybe they’re small enough (issues) that they could become bigger and we have that luxury of making sure they are more preventive than anything.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.