The intermission heading into overtime, by all accounts, was a rather calm one.
The Blackhawks were still tied with the Minnesota Wild, thanks to the efforts of Corey Crawford through the first three periods. Despite a lack of great scoring opportunities against the Wild, the Blackhawks weren’t sweating overtime. They weren’t nervous. They just had a feeling they’d be all right.
“It didn’t matter who was scoring tonight: I think we knew it was in this locker room,” said Patrick Kane, who ended up being that decider in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
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Perhaps what the Blackhawks have can be called swagger, but that can take on an arrogant connotation. Confident probably suits them better; resilient, too. For no matter the situation, the Blackhawks seem to weather it, especially in the postseason. And that confidence, combined with the talent, has them heading to the Western Conference Final for the fourth time in their past six seasons.
The Blackhawks are brimming with confidence following their second-round series victory over the Wild. Part of it comes knowing they didn’t play their best hockey, yet they still pulled through. Big plays at critical times helped, as did some standout performances. That resiliency, however, has been there regardless of opponent the last few postseasons. Blackhawks are down 0-2 in a series? No problem. A workmanlike team erases the 2-0 series edge they built at home? Shake it off and move on. Many of these Blackhawks have been together for several years now, so nothing fazes them anymore.
“We’ve learned a lot these last couple of years,” said Corey Crawford, who stopped 34 of 35 shots in Game 6. “We’ve learned that games aren’t always going to go your way and there are going to be funny things that happen in a game. There are going to be penalties at key times during the game and there’s a lot of stuff you just have to be mentally strong about. You just forget about it and keep going hard.”
Jonathan Toews said the Blackhawks’ camaraderie fuels their drive as well.
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“We want to play for each other. We want to win. That’s all that matters, really,” Toews said. “It’s a lot of fun when we work as hard as we can. We faced a little bit of adversity and I think it means so much more when you succeed and you come out of those situations. It’s exciting. It’s a good feeling right now; we have to keep that feeling going.”
The Blackhawks weathered the Wild's challenge, which was a formidable one. They’ve gained confidence coming off that and hope to use it going forward. If there’s a deficit, if they get down a game, they’ll deal with it. They’ve dealt with it very well plenty of times already.
“We still feel we have another level to get to,” Kane said “It’s exciting to say you didn’t play your best and you still won a series in the second round of the playoffs. That’s a positive thing going forward.”