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Quenneville: Team defense the problem

Brent Seabrook might play on Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Jeff Gross/Getty Images

On Monday, Blackhawkscoach Joel Quenneville reiterated that he is not just blaming his defensemen for his team’s mistakes, especially in holding onto leads.

“It’s more of our group of five playing defensively and how we’re playing in our own end,” Quenneville told reporters after practice on Monday. “Our defense[men] are not an issue, it’s the team defense mentality.”

After taking a 1-0 lead over the Phoenix Coyotes after one period on Saturday, and then ballooning that into 2-0 and 4-2 leads later, the Hawks dropped the contest 5-4 in a shootout. It dropped their winning percentage when leading after the first period to just .714. That’s 17th in the NHL.

They get another chance at the Coyotes on Tuesday and after Phoenix won its ninth consecutive game on Sunday, the contest will be for first in the conference. The Hawks and Coyotes are tied with 97 points.

"Now it’s the biggest game of the year,” Quenneville said. “You can’t let up against them.”

Quenneville named Antti Niemi his starter for Tuesday after he got the loss on Saturday, dropping his shootout record to 5-2.

Defenseman Brent Seabrook is likely to play. He said he’s felt better every day since a hit by the Anaheim Ducks' James Wisniewski last Wednesday.

Seabrook has missed the past two games.