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Avalanche of frustration for Hawks

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



For all the progress the Blackhawks made in back-to-back victories against the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders, a true test awaits them tonight.

The Colorado Avalanche is 3-0 against the Hawks, handing them some of their most frustrating and maddening defeats of the season.

“Colorado has had our number,” coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday. “You look at each and every game, [and] they all led to frustrating losses in all cases.

“The one that was bothersome the most was the one in Colorado [Dec. 13] where it looked like we had something out of the game.”

In that loss, the Hawks allowed three goals, including an empty-netter, in the final 2:30. Patrick Kane said the Hawks must match the speed of the Avalanche, which could sweep the season series with a victory at the United Center.

“The biggest thing that we’ve talked about is to play fast, especially against a team like that,” Kane said. “Hopefully, we can use our speed to counteract their speed.”

It’s also a big game in the standings.

“It’s going to be a better test for us, and they’re in our conference,” goalie Corey Crawford said. “We’re battling them for position. It’s a huge game in the Western Conference.”

Captain chatter

The All-Star Game is done with conference play, installing a fantasy draft and captains.

The 42 All-Stars, which include Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, will vote on the captains, who then will pick their teams two days before the game Jan. 30.

In the Hawks’ locker room, that means there are deals and jokes to be made.

“I’ll tell you one guy who won’t be getting my vote is Jonathan Toews for captain, that’s for sure,” Kane said. “It will be nice to play against him for once and go up head-to-head.”

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby figures to be a captain, but Toews should get some consideration, too.

“Crosby has got to be one of the captains,” Sharp said. “He’s the best player in the game right now. I wouldn’t mind seeing our captain as one of them. Hopefully, he drafts me pretty early. .  .  . I don’t think [Kane] is going to be captain, so we don’t have to worry about that.”

Sharp said it would be fun to play Kane.

“That little rat, I wouldn’t mind throwing him against the glass,” Sharp said. “If I’m against him, I’ll be able to trip him, throw him against the boards or check him, but it would also be nice to have a few passes from him.”

Back with Buff

Former Hawk Dustin Byfuglien, who is having a big season for the Atlanta Thrashers at defense, also was named an All-Star. None of the Hawks was surprised, considering Byfuglien’s 16 goals and 41 points.

“He’s had a great year,” Kane said. “You hear certain things like ‘Norris Trophy candidate’ and things like that.

“He was texting me a month or two ago [saying], ‘This is going to be my one chance to go. We’ve got to do it right.’ It will be nice to go with Big Buff. It would be nice to see him.”

Sitting out

Keith and defenseman Nick Boynton (flu) sat out practice Tuesday. Keith had a maintenance day and will play tonight against the Avs.



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