A big part of the Blackhawks-Vancouver rivalry was missing Monday night in Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who has lost his starting job to Cory Schneider.
The Canucks tried trading Luongo right up until the April 3 deadline before deciding to keep him for insurance -- that, and no team wanted anything to do with his big contract.
"I think Luongo is a big piece of the rivalry, maybe front and center for a lot of fans," Patrick Kane told Blackhawks TV before Monday's game at Rogers Arena. "They get on him, especially in Chicago, but Schneider is a great goaltender, too."
Schneider and the Canucks beat the Hawks 3-1 on goals by Jannick Hansen, Zack Kassian and Daniel Sedin.
Daniel Carcillo broke Schneider's shutout in the third period.
The Hawks were looking to keep the ball rolling toward the playoffs against one of their top rivals. Playing well remained the ultimate goal, even ahead of winning the Presidents' Trophy for best record in the NHL.
The Hawks' lead on Pittsburgh for the President's Trophy is down to 3 points after the Penguins' 3-1 win at Ottawa.
The Hawks have only three games left in the regular season, and Jonathan Toews wants to see the team keep moving forward.
"I think maybe a couple of these games we haven't had the jump that we had before, but most of all we've done a good job of playing with good habits, whether it's 5-on-5 or special teams," Toews told Blackhawks TV. "We've played very smart ion the defensive zone.
"When you hang around in games like that and play patient and smart hockey you'll still find a way to win even though you might not be carrying the play for 60 minutes."
The Hawks are a week away from finally getting the chance to prove how good they are.
"The real teams, the teams that have that ability to take it up a notch are the ones that go far in the playoffs," Toews said. "We'd like to believe we're one of those teams.
"We feel like at moments we've proved it this year and here we go. We've got a few games left to get ready for it. It will be exciting to see who we get matched up against, but all year long we've done a good job of never looking too far ahead and focusing on the next task. That's what we have to do this week."
The Hawks still can play a number of teams in the first round, but Monday it was looking as if it would be either Columbus, Minnesota or Detroit.
It won't be the Canucks.
"I think both teams feel there's always a chance we'll bump into each other in the playoffs," Toews said. "Obviously if that does happen it would be beyond the first round."
The Hawks again played without Patrick Sharp, who coach Joel Quenneville expects to return on Wednesday at Edmonton. They lost center Dave Bolland in the first period with a lower body injury.
Corey Crawford started for the third straight game, but Ray Emery was able to dress as backup.
There might more bodies around by the end of the week when the call-ups from Rockford are announced. Expected to come up now that the IceHogs' season is done are center Brandon Pirri, the AHL scoring champ, wingers Rostislav Olesz, Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith and Jimmy Hayes, and defensemen Steve Montador, Ryan Stanton and Adam Clendening.
Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.