CHICAGO -- Adversity sometimes provides the greatest lessons, and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews thought his team was given one about the potential difference between a Game 1 and Game 2 during their second-round series with the Detroit Red Wings.
The Blackhawks cruised to a 4-1 win over the Red Wings in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series in Chicago on May 15. A game later, Detroit responded to its dismal performance and lit up the Blackhawks for a 4-1 road win. The Blackhawks lost Games 2, 3 and 4 before rallying with three consecutive wins to take the series.
Coming off a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their Western Conference finals series on Saturday, Toews believed the Blackhawks now realized how tough Game 2 could be on Sunday.
“Like I said, a lot of it has to do with the other team improving their play,” Toews said prior to Sunday's game. “We got to know that having these first two games at home is an advantage. We have to use that.
“I think we played pretty good [on Saturday]. We did some good things as a team. But we have to build off of it. We have to not be satisfied with being up 1-0. We want to keep control of the series. These home games are huge. We didn't really do that in the last series. We kind of put ourselves in a tough spot. That's something we can learn from.”
Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell expected the Kings to be a motivated group at the United Center on Sunday night.
“Same as what Detroit did,” Bickell said. “I don't think Detroit was happy with the first game, and I don't think L.A. is, either. It's going to be an exciting, different game. I think their offense is going to be a lot better than they had [in Game 1]. We're just looking forward to the challenge.”
Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya also believed Sunday’s game in Chicago was important because the Kings have been so good at home throughout the playoffs. The Kings are 7-0 at home and 1-6 on the road in the playoffs this season.
“Yeah, I hope we learned something [from the last series],” Oduya said. “Being down 3-1, that's something you don't want to do, especially with a team like L.A. I'm not saying it's impossible to get that back like we did last time, but it's not at all a situation you want to be in. We know they're strong at home. This is an important game today.”