Because of the lockout and their first-round elimination from the playoffs, it’s been nine months since the Blackhawks last played a game at the United Center.
That changes tonight when they host the St. Louis Blues in what is expected to be the team’s 191st consecutive sellout.
“Our fans are the best,” defenseman Duncan Keith said following Tuesday’s morning skate. “It just shows the passion they have for the Blackhawks and the game of hockey. It’s an Original 6 team and there are a lot of Blackhawks fans all over the continent, especially here in Chicago.”
Added Patrick Kane: “I think the fans are going to be very excited to come back and watch a game here at the United Center. It’s going to be a fun night.”
The Blues are certain to give the Hawks a test physically.
“You can expect that,” Kane said. “They’ve always been a physical team. I’ve learned from playing against these guys if you worry about them too much you’re just going to get put right into their game plan. We have to go out and dictate our own pace and our own style and not worry so much about them.”
Off to a 2-0 start on the road, the Hawks will try to find the same intensity at home.
“That’s what we talked about this morning,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “We know we’re playing a team that’s played very well over the past year and is off to a good start (at 2-0). We want to make sure we do everything quick, we have good energy going into the puck area, we want the puck and our transition is good.”
The Hawks will walk the red carpet into the UC starting at 5 p.m. Gates open early at 4:30 p.m.
“A little hoopla never hurts,” Quenneville said.