BOSTON -- Michal Handzus was asked what separates championship-caliber teams from the rest, what makes them competitive every season.
“Usually when there’s adversity, they embrace it, they have fun with it. They’re just looking for the challenge,” Handzus said at the Blackhawks’ media availability Sunday night. “It’s four games. You get a lot of adversity, tough moments. I think you need that.”
As four Blackhawks players sat stoic in Boston, they’ll face another challenge come Monday night at TD Garden: beating a Bruins team that has won seven of their last nine games at home, including six in a row. Oh, and as the Blackhawks head into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, they look at a postseason where, inexplicably, they’ve lost each Game 3 of their previous three series.
Viktor Stalberg “could” play in Game 3, according to coach Joel Quenneville. In other words, expect Stalberg to play. The forward, for the second time this postseason, was benched for the first two games of a series.
For the Blackhawks, Game 2 was in their grasp. They were dictating, pushing and shooting. Then they stopped dictating, be it by their own volition or the Bruins’ physical will. Now they’ll face a Boston team with momentum – and the home crowd -- on its side.
But the Blackhawks aren’t looking at it as an insurmountable task. Playing in another building that’s tough for opponents to win in? They dealt with that at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where they snapped the Kings’ long postseason winning streak. Playing in front of a crowd that doesn’t like them? Please see Vancouver and Detroit. It’s just a matter of the Blackhawks playing their game and doing it for 60 (or more) minutes, not just the 20-plus they did it for in Game 2.
“I guess the main thing is to always keep it simple. If you can do that, usually you can take away some of their momentum,” Patrick Kane said. “I think right now they do have it, especially after the last overtime period where it seemed like they had a lot of chances compared to ours; they got the winning goal, too. It’s something we'll look forward to getting back in Game 3.”
The Blackhawks have set the bar high through these last few seasons. They’ve become a championship-caliber team, something that’s attracted players to want to join their ranks. With that comes challenges and they’re facing their biggest one in the Bruins.
“We've played a lot of games on the road in the playoffs; we know this one is going to be as loud as ever and I think we're excited about that,” Duncan Keith said. “We go into these games knowing that everybody in the building's going to be against us. We stick together. Hockey is the same game no matter what building we're in; the ice doesn't change. Nothing changes but the fans in the stands cheering against you.”