By Adam Harris–

UNITED CENTER – With 25 games left, the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, four points out of a playoff spot, wtih three teams ahead of them.

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Does this mean the Hawks season is not in their own hands?

“I think it’s a little too far out to start solidifying those playoff spots,” leading goal scorer Patrick Sharp said. “I think anything can happen here down the stretch, and I guess to answer the question, yeah if we play our best I’d like to think we control our destiny.”

The Blackhawks have a core group of talented players able beat any team in the league, but they haven’t been able to do that consistently throughout the season. Tonight, they look to win their second in a row against a visiting Columbus Blue Jacket team.

“If we can match their [Columbus] work ethic our talent should take over tonight,” winger Patrick Kane said. “We know that pretty much with any team that we play from here on out. If we play hard, things will work out.”

The team’s longest winning streak this year is four games which they have done twice. Last year, the Blackhawks put together three-four game winning streaks, one-five game streak, one-six game streak, and one-eight game streak.

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“Individual games on an individual basis is what we have to focus on now,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “Q always says [the current game] is the biggest game of the season, and every game from here on out is going to be like that. We gotta have a playoff mentality and go out there and get the two points every night.”

Coach Quenneville remains in the hospital, recovering from an ulcer found in his stomach. He will not coach tonight, and there is no set timetable on his return, although it is believed he should be released in a few days.

Assistant Coach Mike Haviland will coach in Quenneville’s absense tonight just like he did Wednesday night in a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

“I spoke to him [Quenneville] this morning, and he was in great spirits,” Haviland said. “He was actually going a little stir crazy he said. We talked a little bit about Columbus tonight so we are ready to go.”

The team misses their head coach, but are very used to Haviland’s coaching style.

“He is very similar to Coach Quenneville,” Kane said. “Q has been out for a little bit and we’ve pretty much had the same practices and the same pre-game day skate. He does a lot of similar things on the bench, and I’m sure that’s the way Q wants it. Havi is doing a good job so far.”

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The puck drops tonight at 7:30pm.