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Moms to join Blackhawks on two-game trip to Florida

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

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Updated: November 23, 2013 6:22AM

Everybody’s pumped up for the moms’ trip.

‘‘My mom and dad kind of made this all happen,’’ forward Ben Smith said before the Blackhawks departed Monday on a two-game trip to Florida with their mothers in tow. ‘‘Without them, this wouldn’t be possible. So it’s nice to share.’’

With the assignment of Joakim Nordstrom to Rockford, Smith — who has been scratched for four of the Hawks’ first eight games — is likely to have more ice time to make things happen in front of his mother. If that opportunity materializes, Smith said his goal will be to ‘‘play my game. Play with some energy and hopefully do whatever I’m asked to contribute to some wins down in Florida.’’

Even coach Joel Quenne-
ville gushed about the moms accompanying the Hawks to games against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday and Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

‘‘It’s great,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘They’re excited. They want to make sure they outperform the dads [on their trip]. And they measure that in wins and losses on the ice.’’

That’s fine with the Hawks.

‘‘You want to win both [games] and make the mothers proud,’’ said winger Patrick Kane, whose mother accompanied him to Switzerland during the NHL lockout last fall. ‘‘It’s going to be a pretty cool trip. All the moms watching together in the crowd with the jerseys, it’s pretty exciting to know that’s happening.’’

In a measure of how high the bar has been set for the reigning Stanley Cup champions, some worriers are wondering whether the Hawks’ 5-1-2 start is up to their standards. Only a
‘‘Saturday Night Live’’ sketch would have expected the Hawks to match their amazing 21-0-3 start of last season. But the Hawks think they’re casting aside concerns about whether they would have trouble getting back to business after hoisting the Cup all summer.

‘‘You have to be happy with getting points in seven out of eight games,’’ Kane said. ‘‘The good thing is, a lot of us feel it can be better. That’s a good sign of things to come.’’

That might be a reference to the fact the Hawks haven’t scored more than three goals in a game since their season-opening 6-4 victory against the Washington Capitals.

‘‘It would be really hard to repeat what we did last year,’’ winger Marian Hossa said. ‘‘Obviously, we’d like to see more goals, but we feel like we’ve had more chances than last year. I feel like we just need one game to break through, and the goals will follow.’’

One reason for the good start, center Michal Handzus said, is that the Hawks parked their Cup memories, knowing that would give them the best chance to create more such memories.

‘‘We don’t talk about last year at all,’’ he said. ‘‘We said before training camp: ‘Last year was last year. This year is this year.’ We haven’t played our best, but we’re getting there. We have to build it again. It’s a new ­season, new challenges. It’s a lot of fun for us.’’

Quenneville said he likes the maturity he has seen from a team basking in the championship spotlight.

‘‘Going into the season, you had a feeling we were going to be fine,’’ he said. ‘‘I know we’ve had a nice schedule at home, but we’ve gotten off to a relatively good start. I think the guys prepared themselves the right way.’’

NOTE: Corey Crawford is scheduled to be in goal against the Panthers. Backup Nikolai Khabibulin is expected to made his second start of the season against the Lightning. Khabibulin, 40, was in goal for the Hawks’ 3-2 victory Oct. 11 against the New York Islanders.

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