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Big names lacking big numbers lately
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/29/2010 11:28 PM

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The numbers of the Blackhawks' best players in the 13 games since the Olympics don't lie.

• Duncan Keith is minus-7.

• Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each have 3 goals and are minus-8.

• Brent Seabrook is minus-4.

• Marian Hossa has 5 goals in 12 games.

The Hawks have lost eight of those 13 games, and coach Joel Quenneville thinks a big part of the problem for the players who went to the Olympics is they are not getting the job done on the power play, which is 4-for-38 over the last 10 games and ranks last in the NHL at home.

"You can say their numbers are down 5-on-5, but you can say the power play can ignite your offense," Quenneville said. "You can pick up some points along the way. Those are the guys that get the power-play time, so maybe it's probably related to the power play not being productive and maybe giving up a little bit more.

"Whether it's the top guys across the board, I think we all know we have to be better."

With eight games to play, the Hawks think there's plenty of time to turn things around before the playoffs.

This is the second year in a row the Hawks have stumbled in March, but it's also the second straight season where they haven't had to battle down the stretch for a playoff spot.

"It's so deep in the season, so many games, you don't want to say these games are meaningless to us because they aren't," Toews said. "But it's tough, these games - 75 through 82 - they aren't easy.

"We're going to get back on the right track and be as confident as ever heading into the playoffs."

Line dancing: Joel Quenneville did some line juggling at practice Monday that included Dustin Byfuglien going back to playing wing.

Byfuglien has played defense for the last six games but skated at left wing at practice on a line centered by Kris Versteeg with Patrick Kane on the right side.

"We may use him at forward a little bit here," Quenneville said. "We may put Buff up there (tonight at St. Louis), but in games it's a nice option to have to have Buff go back and forth."

The new first line was Jonathan Toews between Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Dave Bolland centered the third line for Andrew Ladd and Troy Brouwer with center John Madden dropping to the fourth line.

"When you're not winning you've got to try things," Quenneville said. "We don't mind experiencing different line combinations. Sometimes they can be more effective, more dangerous and more balanced. I don't mind trying things when it's not working."

Playoff tickets: Single-game tickets for the first two rounds of the playoffs go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Because of the limited number available, tickets can only be purchased at or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

There is an eight-ticket limit and no more than four per game can be purchased.

Tip-ins: Antti Niemi starts tonight at St. Louis ... Will Cristobal Huet get another start this week? "We'll see," Joel Quenneville said. ... Longtime defense partners Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will skate apart again.