The frustration that was readily apparent in the Chicago Blackhawks following Game 3 was either just under the surface or had diminished some by Tuesday afternoon.
It probably didn’t go away completely. And now that they’re down 2-1 to the Detroit Red Wings in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series, the Blackhawks are probably a little angry.
And perhaps, from here on out, they should play a little angry.
The Blackhawks have one more day before they face the Red Wings in Game 4, which they’re desperate to win to bring the series back to Chicago tied 2-2. The emotions are there, from facing a longtime rival and losing Game 3, despite playing better. But the Blackhawks say they need to channel them the right way, and bring a little angst.
“I think it’s a little anger about what we’re doing right now: we don’t want to get behind 2-1 against an opponent like this. It’s a good thing. It gives us a boost of energy and playing with a little anger going forward isn’t a bad thing,” said defenseman Michal Rozsival. “It’s going to help us. Obviously we have to play better and step up our game.”
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When asked if the Blackhawks have to play angry in Game 4, coach Joel Quenneville said, “absolutely.”
“We got the juices at the level that are going to be necessary going forward,” he said. “Going into (Game 3), they got our attention in Game 2. Last night, that was the level we needed to compete at. Some bounces didn’t go our way, but certainly that’s going to be the necessary (level) going forward.”
Playing with anger is all well and good, as long as it’s channeled the right way. Play tough, play determined, but don’t play dumb. There were plenty of penalties and a few non-calls, some that went the Blackhawks way, others that didn’t. Quenneville said, either way, the Blackhawks have to get over it – “complaining or feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t solve anything. Let’s move ahead.”
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And when they do move ahead, play on the right side of the angry line.
“Just playing like that doesn’t give us the green light to take unnecessary or undisciplined penalties,” Quenneville said. “There’s always a discipline that goes behind everything we talk about. It’s playing with a purpose, but discipline is No. 1.”
That discipline’s been tested, and the Blackhawks have dealt with – and killed off -- the penalties. Still, there’s no need to play with fire.
“It’s always a fine line, not to get penalties and play on the edge,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “We’ve had a really good PK so far, but they have a lot of skilled players who can make a difference in the game if we give them too many power plays. It’s a fine line. But you’ve got to play tough. If you play harder on their top guys, that would be good.”
The Blackhawks have reasons to be, and play, mad. Now they have to use that emotion, dance that fine line with it, and get even -- game-wise -- with the Wings.
“You throw around terms like must win; every game in the playoffs is a must win,” Patrick Sharp said. “You can spin it however you want: being down 2-1 in their building, obviously Game 4 is really big.”