Blackhawks hope to continue road momentum during homestand
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com February 10, 2013 9:52PM
Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators
Updated: February 10, 2013 10:09PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After 13 consecutive nights on the road — and having been on the road or traveling for 24 out of 26 days — the Blackhawks finally come home for an extended stay of more than two weeks after Sunday’s 3-0 win over the host Predators.
And what looked like a burdensome schedule, with 10 of 12 on the road to start, looks like a blessing in disguise. The Hawks return to the United Center atop the league standings with nearly half their road schedule behind them. The trick is to continue the momentum at home. The Hawks say that means playing the same way they did on the road — with a focus on defense and smart play, not showing off for what’s sure to be a particularly mad Madhouse.
“We don’t want to change our approach,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We don’t want to think it’s going to be any easier at home than it was on the road.”
Added Jonathan Toews: “It was a very good road trip for us. I don’t think we want to see too much difference in our game when we play at home.
“We’ve played a lot of smart hockey, slow and patient. We found a way to win games even if it wasn’t our best hockey.”
Toews doesn’t believe he will have to crack the whip to make that happen. He might be known as Captain Serious for his focused demeanor, but his job as captain has been seriously easy during the Hawks’ near-perfect start.
“It’s as easy as it gets,” he said. “Being a key guy or leader or captain in the locker room, it’s always easier when you win games. Guys are having fun, and there’s a great energy in our locker room that sometimes is tough to get when it gets a little rocky.”
Michal Rozsival returned to the lineup Sunday for the first time since Jan. 24, when he suffered a leg injury against the Dallas Stars. Rozsival has been healthy the last few games, but he has been scratched while Sheldon Brookbank took the sixth defenseman spot.
Quenneville said he has been happy with both players, and they will continue to split time.
“Brooskie’s played well for us, he’s gotten better every game,” Quenneville said. “And he brings a dimension of physicalness in the back end. Rozy’s got some experience, reliability. It’ s a nice situation where we feel both guys are going to help us as we go along.”