The St. Louis Blues arrived at the United Center on Sunday morning in an all-too-familiar situation.
The Blues have found themselves in a win-or-go-home matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champions after taking a two-game lead in the series, just like they did in the opening round of the 2013 playoffs.
Their season is 60 minutes from possibly coming to a close, but the Blues are trying to approach Game 6 just like any other.
"It's a hockey game, and you've got to play," head coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters Sunday morning. "It's a hockey game. It's a three-hour event, and you just have to be ready to play your game. I told the players last night you can't get overwhelmed by what's at stake for both teams and waste any energy on amping up the volume. The volume is already at full blown right now. You just have to play and save your energy for the actual game.
"The actual event, when you get on the ice will take care of all the energy you need," Hitchcock continued. "You just have to stay calm and focused. We have to play our game and not let them dictate and play their game."
Both teams have a tough battle ahead; closing out this series for either team will present a big challenge.
The Blues said that because of the Blackhawks' talent and experience, controlling the game early will be absolutely crucial if they want to get back to St. Louis for Game 7.
"The battle that we're having is against their experience at closing people out," Hitchcock said. "That's the battle we're having, because we're about to get their A-plus game today. They're not going to want to go back to St. Louis, so we know we're going to get their A-plus game. This is going to give us another evaluation on our team that we need, but we're getting their A-plus today, so we just have to be ready for it.
"If they get to dictate, they're going to win. If we get to dictate, we're going to win."