Brandon Saad talked of attitude and demeanor entering Game 5, when the Chicago Blackhawks were trailing 3-1 in this Western Conference Final series.
“I think we just have to relax,” he said.
Two victories later, the Blackhawks are still here, still battling the Los Angeles Kings. And now hosting Game 7 of this tremendous series, the Blackhawks say their mantra has to remain the same while their compete level has to get that much better.
“We want the same approach,” coach Joel Quenneville said following Sunday morning’s skate. “I thought, Game 5, we came into the game knowing we had a couple little changes in the lines. But I thought we had a good start to the game, good consistency to our game. I thought we rose to the challenge of what was at stake. I thought each and every game in the series I thought we've progressed, played better.”
The third and fourth lines were different this morning. Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith made up the third line while Brandon Bollig, Michal Handzus and Kris Versteeg, who was scratched in Game 5, were the fourth line. Coach Joel Quenneville said yesterday that, “sometimes if you want matchups you got to be down to three (lines).” It’s likely the top three play a bulk of this game, too.
It’s Game 7: you’re going to be rolling your best players as much as possible.
The Blackhawks talk about being relaxed, at least mentally. But it’s also bringing a more energized game. They’ve done that the past two contests, playing each like it was their last because, well, each just about was. Both times they came back from one-goal deficits. Both times they lived to see another day.
Can they do it one more time?
“Being down 3-1 (in the series) and the comeback we’ve had to bring it back home for Game 7, we’re excited,” Bryan Bickell said. “We’re one win away from the finals and we’re gong to leave everything out there tonight. It’s Game 7. Anything goes, so we’re excited.”
As Niklas Hjalmarsson said on Saturday, this series deserves a seventh game. The Blackhawks were able to force the issue, as well as this Game 7. They know they have to be just about perfect to complete the series comeback.
“Details, playing a full 60 minutes,” Saad said about what it’s going to take tonight. “It could go longer than 60 but we’re looking to play every shift, every period like it’s our last, because it could be.”