Blackhawks vs. Blues in the opening round of the playoffs?
Suddenly that's not as far-fetched a scenario as it might have seemed, say, just a week ago thanks to the surging Avalanche.
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Courtesy of Colorado's 4-1 win over Edmonton on Tuesday, the Hawks-Avs battle for home-ice advantage in the playoffs also has turned into an Avs-Blues battle for the top spot in the division.
That's something most didn't see coming, including Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.
"Could be completely wrong. I might have used that word (Colorado) prematurely," Quenneville said. "I waited a long time to use it, as well. Who knows? It's really played out differently over the last couple of days.
"Colorado's on an amazing run right now."
The Avs, 7-0-1 in their last eight games, sit just 2 points behind slumping St. Louis (3 straight losses) with each team having three games remaining in the regular season.
"We don't talk too much about the Blues," Avs coach Patrick Roy told reporters after Tuesday's win. "Deep inside we look at it and all of a sudden we're 2 points behind these guys, and we have the tiebreaker.
"You never know what can happen in this league."
Sporting a brace on his left knee, Patrick Kane returned to the ice with his teammates for Wednesday's morning skate, and afterward both he and Joel Quenneville predicted No. 88 would be 100 percent when the playoffs roll around.
"I think I will be for sure," Kane said. "It looks like we're a week away from playoffs -- that's right about the timetable they told me I should be healed."
As for the knee brace, Kane said it's no big deal.
"I think we all try to wear some type of equipment when we go through injuries to kind of protect it and make sure you're not reinjuring something like that," he said. "Technology is pretty good these days, so it feels good.
"A few little tweaks here and there and should be fine."
Kane's return meant the only player not back on the ice yet was Jonathan Toews. That may change as soon as Thursday, according to Quenneville, who thinks both of his stars will be ready when the puck drops to open the postseason. "I'd say they'll both be 100 percent," he said.
Michal Rozsival participated in Wednesday's morning skate but wasn't in the lineup against the Canadiens. … Jim Cornelison sang the first half of the Canadian anthem in French and the second half in English before Wednesday's game.
He said it:
"Some people think it might be beneficial in the long run to take a little break, especially with the year we had last year and going deep in the playoffs and the Olympics and a lot of different things the past year and a half or so. It's something you never want to happen, but try to think of it in a positive way, I guess."
-- Patrick Kane, finding the silver lining in his rehab