Cristobal Huet is getting a second chance.
Although Nikolai Khabibulin skated Wednesday morning and looked sharp to his teammates, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville informed the media that Huet will get the starting nod against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).
The Blackhawks will be playing with their season hanging in the balance, as they trail this best-of-7 series, 3-1. Quenneville, though, is confident that Huet can get the job done. Huet allowed five goals on 26 shots in Sunday's 6-1 loss at the United Center.
"That was a tough assignment ... he hadn't played in so long," Quenneville said of Huet, who last started on April 11 before getting the nod in Game 4. "A couple of days of practice, he had some work. He's looking forward to it. Games where you think he's just OK, he's returned with some big games."
While the Blackhawks certainly need an all-hands-on-deck approach to have any hope of extending their season, it's no secret that Wednesday's game begins and ends between the pipes.
"I have to give my best effort and be able to see the puck well," Huet said. "Everybody's got to step up and play our best to avoid elimination. We're going to need everybody, but it starts with me."
The guys in front of him will play a huge role, too. While Huet struggled on Game 4, the Blackhawks allowed too many Grade-A chances and played an undisciplined game, as they gave the Red Wings nine power plays.
"Whoever's in net, we feel confident with," Hawks forward Patrick Kane
said. "We feel confident with Huey in net. I think he's played good for us all year. We've just got to play a little bit better in front of him."
As for Khabibulin, Quenneville made it sound as if there's a chance he could play in Game 6, which would be played Saturday. But first things first.
"He progressed pretty well today," Quenneville said of Khabibulin, who is 8-6 with a 2.93 goals-against average this postseason. "We'll see."
Martin Havlat, who leads Chicago with 15 points in these playoffs, will also miss Game 5. Still feeling the ill effects of Niklas Kronwall's hit in Game 3, Havlat tried to play on Sunday but received only 7:59 of ice time. He will be replaced in the lineup by Colin Fraser. Contact Brian Compton at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Staff Writer