CHICAGO – There won’t be many Blackhawks skating with their heads down when Game 4 of their second-round series with the Wild rolls around.
Matt Cooke, whom the NHL has suspended or fined 10 times for illegal play, is expected to return to the Wild lineup after sitting out seven games for his latest incident, a knee-to-knee hit that injured Avalanche forward Tyson Barrie in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
The Blackhawks are well aware of Cooke’s reputation as arguably the league’s dirtiest player, and while they will keep their eyes up and be cognizant of when Cooke is on the ice, they don’t plan on altering their style during Game 4 of their series Friday night at Xcel Energy Center.
“[Cooke] probably knows better now, where he can’t make any more hits that are going to affect himself or the team,” Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said Wednesday at the United Center. “When a player like that comes back in the lineup … [if] you worry about that player too much, it only affects you in a negative way. He can be an effective player, though. He can be good finishing checks, forechecking and he has some skill.”
Added coach Joel Quenneville: “We’ve played against a lot of guys like that over the years here. We just have to be smart and make sure we don’t change how we play and where we want to go.”
Ready to rebound
The Blackhawks are back in Chicago to, as Quenneville put it, “[sleep] in our own beds two nights in a row.”
It was likely a bit of a restless sleep Tuesday night after the Wild’s 4-0 victory in Game 3 of their second-round series, but the defending Stanley Cup champions aren’t tossing and turning too much as they look to rebound in Game 4.
“One of our strengths is the bigger the setting, the bigger the stage, [it’s] rising to the challenge and the occasion,” Quenneville said. “[The Wild] are a good hockey team and we’re playing in a building where they have a ton of success. We knew it was a tough game going into it. Our approach was fine.”
After Game 3, defenseman Duncan Keith talked about a lack of a killer instinct for the Blackhawks, and Quenneville concurred.
“Killer instincts, maybe around the net,” the coach said. “Maybe we could have had a bigger appetite to find that puck or get to that tough area. But our team is pretty resilient. Whatever the challenge is, we try to find ways to overcome it.”
• After benching Nick Leddy for the first time in three years during Game 3 in favor of Sheldon Brookbank, Quenneville said the defenseman still can make an impact during the postseason.
“He will be a big part of this series and success going forward,” Quenneville said. “We’re going to need him here, and we want him to be a part of it.”
• The status of forward Andrew Shaw for Game 4 remains in question. Shaw missed the past two games after suffering an apparent right leg injury on a Clayton Stoner check in Game 1.