EDMONTON - It’s usually pretty tough to get motivated for a team that’s 29th in the NHL standings, but the Chicago Blackhawks have nine good reasons to have a hate on for the Oilers.
And for Edmonton.
The last time they played here Chicago had to sit through a 9-2 beating while a sold-out Rexall Place gleefully chanted “We Want 10!”
Not cool, according to Chicago sniper Patrick Kane.
Kane said the Hawks are determined to settle the score with the Oilers and their fans tonight.
“We’re excited to play, especially after last time,” he said. “The fans were chanting ‘we want 10, we want 10’. You definitely want to get some pay back after the last two games.”
Chicago set the controls for ‘Revenge’ on Jan 2, when Edmonton visited the United Centre, but Edmonton shocked them 4-3, which only served to make the Blackhawks madder.
The Oilers, who’ve earned five of six points in their last three games, know exactly what to expect when the puck drops. They know they’ll have to be ready for Chicago because Chicago will darn sure be ready for them.
“I don’t think past results have anything to do with what’s going to happen tonight,” said head coach Tom Renney. “If that’s what motivates them, that’s great, they’re a good team and they know it. We have to be as good as we can possibly be to beat these guys.”
The Oilers have measured up remarkably well against the Hawks, winning two of three this year and four of the last seven in the last two years.
“I like to think that we try and rise to the occasion and beat good teams, period,” said Renney, who’s had woeful luck against the likes of Calgary and Minnesota. “I also think there’s a fear factor there and sometimes fear is a great motivator. I’m not saying we’re afraid of them, but we’re afraid of what could happen is we don’t do thinking properly. I think they have our attention that way.
“We just get up for them, and we better be up for them tonight because I know they’re going to come hard.”
NO NUGE IS BAD NUGE: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will have to wait to begin his comeback. He was hoping for Thursday against the Blackhawks, but he stayed out late after the morning skate and won’t be in the lineup.
“Day to day is even stretching it, he’s really close,” said Renney. “I’d be surprised if he wasn’t ready for Saturday (against the Wings).”
He could probably go right now, but waiting an extra two days never hurts.
“I would always be prudent with a young player,” said Renney. “In most cases this is the first time they’ve been hurt at the NHL level, and coming back into the best league in the world is not an easy thing to do.
“There’s a part of me that wants to be 100 per cent sure because the future of this organization is in the hands of these young people.”