Despite loss, Hawks on right track

VANCOUVER -- It’s probably for the best that only four members of the Chicago Blackhawks were available to the media on Thursday between Games 1 and 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal matchup with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Hawks didn’t hold a formal practice so Brian Campbell, Brent Seabrook, Chris Campoli, and Michael Frolik were left to answer questions about the Game 1 loss and what’s ahead for Game 2.

When discussing the first game of the series, the players who did speak, had similar things to say.

“They seemed to take it to us physically and we know we’re going to have to match that intensity in Game 2,” Campoli said. “Even better, it would be nice to get off to a good start and take it to them a little bit.”

Some version of that was said by the other three players as well as by coach Joel Quenneville.

“In the first 10 minutes of the game we were on the receiving end of all aspects of the game,” Quenneville said. “We need to be more intense and harder to play against. We made it too easy on them.”

Frolik was the only forward to speak to the media Thursday, and he’s about the only player who hit anything Wednesday night, registering a team-high six hits. Getting outhit 20-9 in the first period wasn’t the end of the world; none of those hits led to great scoring chances for the Canucks. But it did set a tone.

The Canucks finished their checks and in the process told the Hawks it wasn’t going to be an easy opening game of the 2011 playoffs.

“Chicago had played five games in eight nights,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault explained. “Five stressful and intense games to get in. The last one they lose they think they’re out, probably a very emotional day. They fly in here on the Monday and we felt it was important for us to get off to a good start.”

In other words, Vigneault wanted his club to catch the Hawks while still on an emotional roller coaster from the weekend -- and it’s exactly what happened. But the Hawks recovered in time to play some decent hockey, and if not for a very good night by Roberto Luongo, the outcome may have been different. Don’t expect another 47-hit performance by Vancouver though. That was a one-time thing.

So we might have a series but the Hawks have to prove they can bring it for 60 minutes and cut down on some mistakes. Remember, the margin for error has shrunk compared to a season ago.

Duncan Keith has to get shots through and cut down on turnovers. Either would have prevented Jannik Hansen’s breakaway goal. A little better defensive coverage by Patrick Sharp and others on the Canucks’ first goal and it could have been prevented as well.

“We need more across the board,” Quenneville said.

The equation is simple: Better coverage, better scoring chances, more bodies to the net, and physical play. The Hawks don't need an overhaul. There was no soul searching after Game 1, but that might come if they get in a 2-0 hole.

For now, it’s wait and see. What kind of desperate response will the Stanley Cup champions provide? The next 60 minutes the Hawks play will tell a lot about their desire to fight long into the spring.

Vigneault can’t use the roller coaster of last weekend anymore and more importantly, the Hawks can’t let him.


• Expect Fernando Piasni to return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for Game 1. Tomas Kopecky is doubtful with an upper body injury.

• Joel Quenneville broke up the lines early in Game 1. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp were re-united while Marian Hossa skated with Michael Frolik.

Dave Bolland talked extensively on Thursday about not returning too soon from the concussion which has sidelined him since March 9. He said he's talking with the Hawks "mental coach", Jim Gary, to keep positive. He also named several players who have returned early from concussions and suffered further problems. It’s something he doesn’t want to experience.