12/22/2009 3:35 PM - From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
The stage is set for a big game at the United Center tonight as the Blackhawks take on the San Jose Sharks at 7 pm CT.
Not only will the Hawks face San Jose for sole possession of first place in the Western Conference on national television, but with the Blackhawks riding a four-game winning streak and San Jose coming in after dropping five of seven, Chicago knows that it will be facing a team desperate for another two points.
“It’s going to be another big challenge for us,” said Brian Campbell. “We’re tied with them in points right now, and they’re going to be looking for redemption. It makes it a lot of fun for everybody coming to the United Center.”
Chicago must also contend with a Sharks team that will be looking for revenge after the Blackhawks beat them 7-2 in San Jose last month.
“We expect a tough game tonight, but not just because of the last game or because where we are in the standings,” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. “But we expect them to be hungry and ready, and we’re looking to respond in kind.”
Its obvious significance aside, a win tonight in front of a national audience could put the Blackhawks in the discussion for the NHL's best team. The Sharks have been one of the Western Conference’s dominant squads for several seasons and a winning effort from the Hawks tonight would give them a 3-0-0 record against San Jose this year.
“They pretty much ran the show last year and up into this year,” said Jonathan Toews. “It’s debatable about who the best team is, I guess. But it could change again; there are a lot of great teams in this conference, and it will be a battle all year. This is a big game tonight, and we’ll be ready for it.”