Hawks want signature win? Beat Detroit

December, 17, 2010
12/17/10
3:49
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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[+] EnlargeChris Chelios
Scott Levy/Getty ImagesChris Chelios spent more years with the Red Wings than the Blackhawks, but Chicago will recognize his Hawks days with a ceremony Friday night.
If the Chicago Blackhawks are looking for a defining win, a win over the Detroit Red Wings would do the trick.

After two days of practices, the theme emerging from the Hawks dressing room -- to no surprise -- is a defensive one.

"We need to win puck battles," Jack Skille said Friday morning. "We weren't winning a lot of puck battles the last couple games and it ended up shooting us in the foot."

The Hawks worked one-on-one drills in the corners on Thursday in hopes of raising their competitive level. They'll need to against the conference-leading Red Wings.

"Hopefully there will be a lot of fans cheering for us and no boos tonight," Skille said. "We're going to bring a lot of energy and play smart hockey."

Ryan Johnson
It was just a couple of weeks ago the newest Blackhawk was looking for a job. Given a tryout with the Hawks affiliate in Rockford, he finds himself playing for the big club after just one game in the AHL.

"I've given two stabs at trying to beat them and it hasn't worked out so I figured I would come over to the other side," Johnson joked.

Johnson played the last two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, who were eliminated each of those years in the playoffs by the Hawks. Johnson also played previously for Quenneville in St. Louis.

"I know them well and they know me well," he said. "They don't have any questions of what they're getting."

They're getting a defensive minded player who can play either forward position. The Hawks did not reveal their line combinations, but the possibility now exists Patrick Sharp will move back to wing with the Hawks having four other healthy centers.

There is little doubt Johnson was brought in -- over another recall of Jeremy Morin -- because the Hawks are trying to stress defense.

Morin Update
Joel Quenneville said no decision has been made yet regarding Morin going to the World Juniors Championship in Buffalo from Dec. 26-Jan. 5. Their camp opens this weekend. Previously, general manager Stan Bowman said Morin would go to Buffalo if he was playing in Rockford at the time.

Morin has played nine games in the NHL, a tenth means a full year under his entry level contract will kick in. His demotion to Rockford, though, was a hockey decision. Morin is almost assuredly going to play for the Hawks again this season and surpass the nine-game barrier.

Jassen Cullimore on Waivers
It's a curious move by the Hawks, in one sense, considering Quenneville has spoken highly of his veteran defenseman. He would not reveal the Hawks strategy in allowing Cullimore to be claimed by another team, but said he would talk more about it after the process is over on Saturday.

Cullimore has five assists and is plus-5 in 27 games, and for the moment, seems the least of their concerns. However, because of matchup concerns with Cullimore and Nick Boynton, it forces Quenneville to use Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook more than he would like to.

Chelios Heritage Night
The Hawks will honor Chris Chelios Friday night. After playing nine seasons with the Hawks, winning two Norris Trophies, and helping the Hawks to the 1992 Stanley Cup finals, Chelios was traded to the Red Wings in a controversial move.

Before the trade, Chelios said on a local television show he would never play for the Wings.

"I really hated them, just like everyone else in Chicago," he said on Friday. "The decision I made going to Detroit, a lot of had to do with being close to my family."

Chelios is excited to see many former Hawks in attendance for his night, including his good friend, Jeremy Roenick.

"He was born to carry a microphone, so if he wants to talk I'd rather have him make a fool of himself than me," Chelios quipped. "It's special having J.R. here."

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
64 27 37 10
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 27
AssistsJ. Toews 38
+/-J. Toews 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.31