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Hawks see themselves getting ahead, even catching Wings

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



With the Hawks clinging to the Western Conference’s final playoff spot, coach Joel Quenneville’s mind-set Thursday after practice at Johnny’s Ice House West was to take care of first things first by securing a more firm playoff footing.

‘‘Moving ahead from where we’re at right now is what we’re really looking forward to [doing] — getting out of that [place] where every day you’re in or you’re out or you’re on that bubble,’’ Quenneville said.

The Hawks will get that chance with 10 of their next 11 games against Western Conference opponents, starting Saturday in Detroit.

“It’s going to be a great test for our team,” winger Marian Hossa said. “There are a lot of division games, and those count almost like four-point games.”

The Hawks will have the first of four remaining ‘‘four-point’’ games on the schedule with the Central Division-leading Red Wings on Saturday. And even though the Wings have an eight-point cushion on the Hawks, with the number of head-to-heads left between the teams, captain Jonathan Toews sees a scenario in which the Hawks can catch up.

‘‘I don’t see why not,’’ Toews said. ‘‘It’s a long year. As long as we can keep having success against them — we haven’t played them too often yet — we obviously control that [destiny].

‘‘It’s not going to take a miracle to catch them. We’ve just got to play well. We’ve gotten some big points in these last couple weeks, and now things are looking in our favor. .  .  . We’re definitely not satisfied with where we’re at in the standings. We’ve got to keep getting better.’’

Maybe it won’t take a miracle to rein in the Red Wings. But with games against the league’s two best offenses this weekend, it will take a better performance on the penalty kill and minimizing the amount of time playing a man down.

‘‘Not [taking] bad penalties, that’s the No. 1 key,’’ Hossa said. ‘‘Try to play five-on-five and try to stay in their zone because they’ve got lots of talent, both [Detroit and Philadelphia].’’

Poker faceoff

Brian Campbell hosted his annual charity poker tournament Tuesday night at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind. The event raised money for his Campbell for Kids foundation that focuses on helping children with special needs and learning disabilities.

For the second consecutive year, Troy Brouwer was the last player standing before being eliminated.

‘‘[Brouwer’s] got game,’’ Campbell said. ‘‘I’ll be staying away from him if he does want to play cards on the plane. [Corey] Crawford was pretty good, [too]. He had the whole getup: He made his own T-shirt, he had the headphones, sunglasses, everything.”

 Hossa was eliminated first.

‘‘All [Hossa] wanted before was not to go out first, and he ended up going out first,’’ Campbell said. ‘‘He probably jinxed himself a little bit.’’

 Said Hossa: ‘‘No regrets because I had a great hand [trip eights] and the other guy had a better hand than me. Even pro guys who play poker told me that was a good call; they would have done the same thing.’’

Bickell buries chances

Playing on the Hawks’ checking line, Bryan Bickell doesn’t see scoring chances all that often. But the 24-year-old first-year player has taken advantage when they do.

At 17.4 percent, Bickell has the 14th best shooting percentage in the league and leads rookies in that category — nearly 4 percent better than the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand’s 13.5 percent.

‘‘I know my shooting percentage is pretty high, but I didn’t think it would be leading the rookies,’’ Bickell said. ‘‘Coach Q and [assistant coach Mike Kitchen] have been on me to get shots on net and create offense off rebounds. But my shots have been going in, so I can’t complain.’’

Salary-cap shuffle

The Hawks recalled Nick Leddy from Rockford on Thursday. He was assigned to the IceHogs on Monday in a salary-cap move.

The 19-year-old defenseman has averaged 14:34 in five games since being recalled for the first time Jan. 7.



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