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May, 2, 2010

CHICAGO -- There wasn't a moment of hesitation from Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. Rookie netminder Antti Niemi will be back in goal for Game 2 on Monday night.

"Antti's playing, no doubt," Quenneville said Sunday after choosing not to skate his players. "He's played very well for us down the stretch. We like the way he played in consecutive games, went on a nice roll there. He played a very good series against Nashville, and he was fine last night. I think it was easy to make a change going into the third period to get him rested and get him excited."

Quenneville believes in Niemi's ability to rebound from poor outings, and that was on display in the first round when he posted a pair of shutouts after so-so performances.

"I think he's got the nice approach where he's focused. He's got a pretty laid-back attitude as far as moving forward and fighting through it," Quenneville said. "Last night was last night. I think he's just really focused on what he has to do to be successful as a goalie, and moving forward has never been an issue."

Getting to Luongo

Much of the focus in the Hawks' camp Sunday was finding a way to get to Roberto Luongo, perhaps bump him around a little.

"Absolutely, we can," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "Again, he's one of those guys that he's been a big part of their success and one of those guys we've focused on a lot in these last couple years. People start to say that this team is building on a rivalry; he's one of those guys we have to get to. We didn't do that [Saturday] night."

The key to beating Luongo?

"Second opportunities are generally the ones you get a better opportunity on him," Quenneville said. "When he sees the puck, he's very good. Traffic and ugly goals is the way we're going to be successful."

Pep talk

Toews isn't the rah-rah type, but he certainly wasn't happy Saturday night, and he may have let his teammates know.

"A lot of us were pretty frustrated yesterday. It's a natural reaction to show that you care about a game like that," Toews said Sunday. "Today, we're all pretty upbeat, that's the way to keep it. We have to stay in a good mood and be optimistic about [Monday]. The game yesterday is over; there's nothing we can do about that. There's no reason to walk around moping today and not talking to each other. I think we're all in a pretty good mood. We're ready to get back at 'er and have fun, work hard and win a hockey game."

Is Keith tired?

According to those who follow the Blackhawks on a daily basis, Norris Trophy nominee Duncan Keith has looked a little fatigued at times since the Olympics, and Saturday night wasn't a great game, either. His top pairing with Brent Seabrook will once again get lots of ice time in this series as it tries to defend against the Sedin twins.

"They do log a lot of minutes," Quenneville said. "They're going to be challenged in this series against the Sedins. That pair has been very reliable all year. I think awareness as to how they're feeling is part of it, but I think [Keith is] accustomed to playing up to 30 minutes. … He can absorb a lot of ice time, and he's got a lot of energy in his body, and he takes care of himself real well. We'll keep an eye on him, but he's certainly not a guy you have to worry about too much."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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