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Hawks motivated by earlier drubbing by Oilers

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- The last time they saw the Edmonton Oilers, the Chicago Blackhawks were in Rexall Place down 9-2 and the crowd was chanting for a 10th goal to be put on the board late in the third.

It was called a "humiliating" loss by Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville afterward and his players agreed. Since that game, it's been a different story for both teams. The Hawks have gone 12-4-1 and surged to the top of the League standings, while the Oilers are 7-17-1 in their past 25 games.

Monday night's game Edmonton at the United Center appears to be a prime opportunity for Chicago to exact some revenge for that earlier drubbing and the Hawks aren't exactly downplaying it.

"We certainly should use it as motivation," forward Jamal Mayers said after Monday's morning skate. "Obviously they took it to us in every facet of the game and we've got a chance to redeem ourselves tonight and get a victory -- and that's our focus."

Speaking of focus, the blowout loss to the Oilers actually helped the Hawks to regain theirs during a tough road swing through Western Canada and California. Just about everything was wrong about their game on Nov. 19 in Edmonton, but they quickly rebounded and haven't looked back --until now.

"I think it maybe just helped us realize some of our issues and some of our problems as a team that we needed to rectify," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "When you're kind of cruising along, sometimes your talent and skill maybe takes over a little bit, even if you're not playing the right way and doing the right things. That will only get you so far, so maybe it was a wake-up call for us, that maybe we needed to change a few things and play harder and better for each other if we wanted to keep winning. It was a choice we made and you've seen a difference since then. So, it's time to put our team game to use tonight."

Don't mistake that for bravado or prediction of a win, however.

"We're not going to make any promises or do any trash talking," Toews said. "It's just all about how we play tonight and how we show up and prepare for this one."

The Oilers, meanwhile, know it's going to be a challenge.

"Good for us," Edmonton coach Tom Renney said. "Let's go right to the acid test. If we're going to grow up and be a competitive team, we have to take responsibility for our performances when they're good and bad. We had a strong game against these guys the last time we saw them. We know they're way better than a seven-goal spread, at least that, so we're going to have to bring our 'A' game from top to bottom tonight."

That means not trying to be too complex offensively and trying to once again tilt the ice in their favor by getting the puck behind the Chicago defense and forechecking effectively all game.

"It's just one of those things where we played them well last game and we're going to have to try and repeat that exact same game," Oilers forward Ryan Jones said. "That was one of the more simple games we've played all year. We did a great job of getting pucks deep and shooting and getting traffic to the net. That's kind of what we've been taking about what we need in our game all year."
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