It seemed as if it would be a slam dunk. Another one of Nikolai Khabibulin's former teams was in town on Sunday, so naturally the veteran goalie would start against the Edmonton Oilers, right?
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville decided to come back with Corey Crawford even though Crawford started and won on Saturday in Dallas.
"It definitely got some consideration, but the last couple weeks it's been a light schedule and then we go into four games a week, so we expect to get him in there real soon," Quenneville said.
It probably didn't help Khabibulin's cause that the Hawks have had trouble with the Oilers over the last couple years. Edmonton collected 3 of 4 points in the United Center last season.
"Certain teams have success against you," Quenneville said. "I think we want to make sure we're ready and whether that's the reason or not, we just want to make sure we're well aware this is not going to be an easy game."
Khabibulin hasn't started since Oct. 29 when he was pulled against Ottawa after allowing 4 goals in half the game.
"We like the way he has been practicing," Quenneville said. "It's a dangerous team over there and we're respectful of what they can do. We're looking to get Nik in here and the next couple, three weeks we play many games, four or five in a week, so we're going to get him in.
"I think Khabby, once he gets rolling here, I think we're going to be fine and he'll get his turns in the net. Right now he's had a stretch here without playing, but we envision him getting back in there and getting his regular starts that we anticipated at the start of the year. He's working hard in practice to get that chance to get back in there and do what he can do."
Patrick Sharp's 4 assists at Dallas on Saturday tied a career high for the left wing and gave him 10 points in his last six games.
"I thought at the start of the year his production wasn't where it probably reflected how he was playing, because I thought he was playing pretty well," Joel Quenneville said. "Since the outset of the season he's got the puck, he's got some speed to his game, he has the puck a lot and he's playing the way you want him to play.
"Eventually you get your turn and the puck goes in. Scorers love to score and when you get a little bit hot they just seem to go in for you. Right now he's on a nice little role like that whole line is."
Handzus not close:
Center Michal Handzus missed his eighth straight game on Sunday with an upper body injury.
"He skated hard this morning and it looks like there's a lot of progress there," Joel Quenneville said before Sunday's game. "To say when exactly this week, he might be a couple weeks away, one or two weeks before we see him in a game. We'll know more after he practices."
Jeremy Morin was a healthy scratch for the third straight game as Joel Quenneville went with seven defensemen again. Sheldon Brookbank took several shifts early on the third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell.