Chicago Sun-Times

First in the West on the line vs. Detroit

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jub.jpgFirst place in the Western Conference is there for the taking. All the Blackhawks have to do is defeat the rival Detroit Red Wings Sunday at the United Center.

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout late Saturday night and jumped ahead of the Hawks in the standings. The Sharks have 113 points to the Hawks' 111.

So the West comes down to Sunday's game against Detroit -- in many ways it's only fitting. If the Hawks win, they take first in the conference by virtue of the tiebreaker, more victories. They would also earn home-ice advantage through the conference finals.

''We feel that we're at the top of our game right now and that's the way we want it,'' Jonathan Toews said after the Hawks defeated the Colorado Avalanche Friday in Denver. ''We went through a tough stage a couple weeks ago and it was pretty frustrating. But we learned from it and now we have that confidence that we know we can do anything.

"It's always been about us and how we play, never really worrying about who we play in the first round."

If the Hawks win the West, they would face the Avs in the first round. The focus, though, is on the Red Wings.

"It's a huge, huge rivalry with Detroit," center Colin Fraser said. "We want first place, so it's still a big game for us."

If the Hawks lose Sunday, and the Los Angeles Kings beat Colorado, then the Hawks would face the Nashville Predators in the first round. The Kings also remain a first-round possibility.

''We control if we're going to be in first or second place,'' winger Marian Hossa said. ''We've got everything in our hands.''

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Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times for more than four years, covering the Hawks, Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.

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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on April 11, 2010 12:04 AM.

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