Blackhawks-Oilers Preview

Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville called his team’s most

recent performance the “worst game of the year.” That doesn’t

necessarily mean he’s forgotten about what happened in the last

matchup with the Edmonton Oilers.

Chicago looks to move closer to clinching its first Presidents’

Trophy in 22 years when it faces an Edmonton team looking to end a

five-game home losing streak Wednesday night.

The NHL-leading Blackhawks (34-6-5) have wrapped up the top seed

in the Western Conference and have a chance to finish with the most

points in the league for the first time since 1990-91.

There haven’t been many low moments during a stellar season,

though Chicago appeared outmatched while playing its third game in

four nights Monday. The Blackhawks had their 11-game point streak

snapped in a 3-1 loss at Vancouver on Monday.

The Blackhawks, who fell 3-2 in a shootout to Phoenix on

Saturday, haven’t dropped three straight all season. They’ll host

Calgary on Friday before visiting St. Louis on Saturday to end the

regular season.

“We want to be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs,”

said Corey Crawford, 5-1-2 with a 2.05 goals-against average in his

last eight starts. “We’re just going to continue playing hard and

get ready for the next game.”

Though Quenneville wasn’t pleased, he is taking Monday’s loss in


“It’s the one game this year that we weren’t at the level that’s

needed,” Quenneville said. “I’m not concerned at all. Throw it in

the garbage can and move on.”

The Blackhawks, though, didn’t come out with much of an edge in

their last meeting with Edmonton. They trailed 4-0 within the first

12 1/2 minutes of the first period before their comeback attempt

fell short in a 6-5 home defeat March 10.

That contest began an 8-2-2 stretch for the Oilers, who found

themselves in eighth place in the West after an 8-2 victory over

Calgary on April 3 extended their winning streak to five.

However, Edmonton (17-21-7) wasn’t able to maintain the

momentum, getting outscored 29-12 while dropping eight of nine

since that 12-game surge. The Oilers lost 3-0 to Anaheim on Monday,

the seventh time in nine games they scored one or no goals.

”The disappointment when you look at us right now is you don’t

recognize the team that was in eighth place at the (36-game) mark,”

coach Ralph Krueger said. “What has happened here is frustrating

for everybody.”

The Oilers are on the verge of dropping six straight at home for

the first time since a seven-game skid Jan. 18-Feb. 13, 2011. They

conclude the season – their seventh straight without a playoff

appearance – at Minnesota on Friday before hosting Vancouver the

next night.

”Screaming and yelling and beating up on this team is not going

to help them,” Krueger said. ”They need to look inside to see

what is missing and what are we doing different than these other

teams and try and work on that. It is all we have left right


Former Blackhawk Nikolai Khabibulin was in net when Marian Hossa

scored in overtime to give Chicago a 3-2 win Feb. 25, and Devan

Dubnyk made 11 saves in the Oilers’ victory March 10.

It’s uncertain who will be in net Wednesday for either team. Ray

Emery, among the league leaders with a 1.91 GAA, appears healthy

and backed up Crawford on Monday after missing two games with a

lower-body injury.

Dave Bolland left that contest with a groin injury and is

questionable for Wednesday, while Patrick Sharp has missed five

straight with an upper-body injury.