“The nerves and excitement are behind us and now we can just go play hockey and play the way we know how to play,” Jonathan Toews said.
After squeaking out the win, the Hawks don’t want to feel too comfortable, so the mind games have begun for Monday’s Game 2 at the United Center.
“We can kind of pretend that we’re down a game. Toews said. “We’re really unsatisfied the way we started the series and regardless of us being up 1-0, to us, that means nothing. We can be much more desperate and play like we’re playing from behind.”
It’s a strategy that worked in the Western Conference finals, as the Blackhawks built a 3-0 lead, eventually sweeping the San Jose Sharks.
“We were maybe chasing the puck a little too much,” Toews said. “We weren’t protecting and supporting each other. The less we think about things the more we’ll create.”
They finished a combined minus-9, and were trying to figure things out on the bench. What did they discuss?
“Not waiting any longer,” Toews said. “As the game went along we were kind of pressing on each other to get going. That’s one game where we could have done a lot of little things to help our team and we didn’t do those things.
“This is the big show. We want to play our best hockey every shift. We’ll play better. It’s as simple as that.”
Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t too hard on his top line. They’ve been so good, for so many games this postseason, he’s confident they will bounce back.
“Not everything is going to go your way,” he said. “I still like how they compete.”
--The Flyers were not called for a penalty in Game 1, although there were several instances where one could have been whistled. Chris Pronger came close to an infraction battling Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Seabrook was hit in the mouth with a high stick.
“[It was a] follow through,” Seabrook explained. “The refs have to make a [split-second] call and they feel like it was [just] a follow through.”
The rule book states that a player must have “control” of his stick at all times, however on a windup or follow through, accidental contact is allowed. It’s a judgment call that went against Seabrook.
--Seabrook took nine stitches on his forehead after hitting the ice in the game’s opening minute. Niklas Hjalmarsson also got stitches after the puck bounced off him on the game’s first goal.
--The Blackhawks took four minor penalties. Two came by way of fourth-liners Ben Eager, called for a crosscheck, and Adam Burish, nailed for boarding. Quenneville was not overly critical of the infractions.
“Unfortunately [Eager’s] stick broke,” Quenneville said. “It’s probably not a penalty if his stick doesn’t break. And Burish, the guy went into the boards funny. I think you want that energy. I thought that line was a factor.”
--Brian Campbell’s scant 13 minutes on the ice may have been in response to his bad turnover on the Flyers’ first goal. Quenneville indicated that a coach’s decision -- not injury -- limited Campbells’ time.
-- Tomas Kopecky got the game-winning goal in the third period after being a healthy scratch for the previous five games.
“No matter how you prepare you’re always going to be a little nervous, but after a couple shifts I was able to settle down. It’s a great boost for your confidence [to score].”
--Kris Versteeg once again had a fine night, contributing the winning assist.
“[Seabrook] made a great keep in the zone and then [Dave Bolland] rammed it around the boards and I just passed it out to Kopecky. Kopy waited [Flyers goalie Brian Boucher] out. I didn’t expect that and he slid it with no room between the post and his pad.
“I kind of knew he was there and when I turned and passed it, fortunately it hit his stick.”
--The Hawks lead the NHL this postseason with four shorthanded goals. They also led the league in the regular season with 13.
“We have guys that can kill penalties and can handle the puck pretty well,” Quenneville said.
--Andrew Ladd is still day-to-day, but Quenneville says Ladd is progressing and he would address the lineup situation on Monday.