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Blackhawks stay grounded, thanks to last season’s 9-game skid

Corey Crawford will get start goal for Blackhawks Sunday Nashville. | AP

Corey Crawford will get the start in goal for the Blackhawks on Sunday at Nashville. | AP

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Updated: March 11, 2013 6:57AM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A year ago this week, the Blackhawks came to Nashville and lost their ninth consecutive game, a skid that saw them tumble from the top of the standings to sixth in the Western Conference, just three points ahead of ninth.

And while these are heady times for the Hawks — atop the league again with a 9-0-2 record — they haven’t forgotten how quickly things can go awry.

“It can go bad,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “[Last year], we had a good start, we had a good finish, obviously that was a terrible stretch. In our business, things change quickly. Let’s make sure we keep going in the direction we’ve been going and keep getting better knowing that things could go bad.”

Patrick Sharp said that skid has kept the Hawks grounded. He pointed to the third period in Phoenix on Thursday, when the Hawks led 6-1 but continued to backcheck and help on defense rather than play loose and pad stats. Sharp said he believed it was the team’s strongest period.

“We’re playing really well right now and things are good, but we know that the NHL is a competitive league,” Sharp said. “We saw it last year. We were in first place at the All-Star Game, lost 10 in a row or whatever it was. Negative things can creep into your game. Our focus right now is just to keep getting better and not allow it to happen.”

No controversy

Ray Emery has had two consecutive strong games, but Quenneville reiterated that Corey Crawford is still No. 1. He’ll start Sunday against the Predators.

“Ray’s done a great job, so it’s a good situation to be in where both guys get the net,” Quenneville said. “Corey’s going to get the bulk of it, but both guys deserve to play.”

Masked man

Defenseman Nick Leddy likely will wear a full-cage facemask after taking a puck to the face against the Coyotes that required dental work.

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