Under pressure? Blackhawks aren't feeling any

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Under pressure? Blackhawks aren't feeling any

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 10:07 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The word pressure came up a lot in the Blackhawks locker room following their Game 4 victory over Vancouver on Tuesday night. But not in the way youd probably think. The Blackhawks, you see, may be talking about it, but theyre not feeling it at all.

The defending Cup champions, the No. 8 seed that entered Game 4 down 3-love to the Canucks obviously wasnt feeling the heat as evidence by their 7-2 victory. As Patrick Sharp said, were playing loose, were playing to have fun out there and playing for each other. We're standing up for each other, playing the game the right way.

Basically, they were playing like there was no tomorrow because there nearly wasnt. They were getting scoring from everyone. They were hitting more than they had in previous games, a response to the series intensifying and also to the absence of Brent Seabrook, felled by a Raffi Torres' shoulder-to-head hit in Game 3.

And thats the way the Blackhawks have to play the rest of this series if they want to pull off a rarely-done comeback from their 3-0 deficit. All hands on deck, leave it all on the ice, rinse and repeat.

Its such a hard thing to come back from 3-0 down. We just have to go out and play some hockey and get back to our roots and the way our team can play," Brian Campbell said.

No, the Blackhawks are not the ones with all the pressure on them in this series. They backed into the playoffs thanks to Minnesota. Theyve been inconsistent all year. This year, at least, nobodys going to be stunned if they dont win.

Contrast that with the Canucks, who have the win-a-Cup-for-Canada weight on their shoulders. Theyve been demanded to come through with that a few seasons now, but this year its magnified because they already took that Presidents Cup full-time symbol of the NHLs highest point total, part-time kiss of death. The pressure is immense, and the Canucks were already fielding the uh-oh questions after just one loss.

It was all (about) attitude. That's the game, coach Joel Quenneville said. You're down in a spot you can measure your team. Are they going to go away quietly or compete for one another? They battled for each other. It was a good first step.

First step, yes, and lets reiterate that is all it is right now. The Blackhawks are still down 3-1 and will once again face the hostile crowd at Rogers Arena on Thursday night. As Patrick Kane said, the Canucks are probably the ones laughing right now, and they could still have the last one soon.

The Canucks are still the best in the West, theyre still firmly in control of this series and still have the advantage with that ice and that crowd in Game 5.

The Blackhawks need to play Game 5 the way they played Game 4: free-wheeling, all-out hockey. It won them one game. If they play it again and it wins again, then its a series again.

And then the pressures really on No. 1.

It's just fun to play playoff hockey, Campbell said. It's fun to try to win games on the road and hopefully we can have some luck at that. You get huge rewards if you win a game on the road. That's what we're going after.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Lars Johansson excited for Blackhawks call-up

Lars Johansson excited for Blackhawks call-up

If Lars Johansson was surprised by the turn of events that led to his call-up, he wasn’t showing it.

The goaltender has played a bulk of the Rockford IceHogs’ games this season before Saturday, when he was recalled after Corey Crawford was sidelined with appendicitis. And while he’s not sure how much he’ll play while with the Blackhawks, Johansson is ready to benefit from the experience, even if it’s solely in practices.

“I hope to learn a lot,” Johansson said prior to Sunday’s game, the first in which he served as backup goaltender for the Blackhawks. “It’s top players and they’re the best players in the world. I’m excited to face every shot from them and hopefully I can be a little bit better.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said Scott Darling will likely play “a big chunk” of the time Crawford is sidelined. That’s not surprising. But Quenneville said the organization has confidence in Johansson if he’s needed.

“When he came to our organization we thought he had a chance to play at this level,” Quenneville said. “He has size, experience coming up here, a chance to face NHL shooters and you never know. We know things change quickly in our business. We’ve seen over the last few years, everyone using three or four goalies deep. We’ll see with Lars. If he gets a chance to play, he’ll be fine.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Johansson has a 6-7-1 record (2.63 goals-against average and .911 save percentage) in his brief time with the Rockford IceHogs. After signing with the Blackhawks in May, Johansson faced the same issue as many who come from across the pond: adjusting to the North American ice. So Johansson got here well ahead of training camp this season to get used to the smaller surface. That, combined with his games in Rockford have Johansson feeling better.

“The shots can come quicker, and it’s tighter, crowded, in front of the net so you have to work a little bit more. But otherwise than that, yeah, the [trapezoid] where I can play the puck that was a bit different in the very beginning,” Johansson said. “It took me a couple of weeks but now you don’t even think about it anymore.”

Johansson will take this experience for whatever it brings. If it’s mostly practice, so be it. If he does get in a game, he’ll handle all the emotions that will come with that and go with it.

“If something were to happen, absolutely I would be nervous, excited for any new thing my whole career. It would be exciting most of all,” Johansson said. “If that happens, it happens. I just have to make myself prepared as good as I can now if that were to happen.”

Blackhawks Updates: Jonathan Toews 'not getting better,' out vs. Jets

Blackhawks Updates: Jonathan Toews 'not getting better,' out vs. Jets

Jonathan Toews will be out once again with an injury that’s “not getting better,” and Scott Darling will start when the Blackhawks face the Winnipeg Jets tonight at the United Center.

Toews, suffering from a reported back injury, skated on Sunday morning. But coach Joel Quenneville said later in the afternoon that the Blackhawks will keep Toews off the ice for about three days and then, “get a better assessment in the middle of the week.” Once listed as day-to-day, Toews, who was injured on Nov. 23, will now miss his sixth consecutive game.

“Well, you certainly miss his presence in all aspects of his team game, his leadership is as good as anyone who plays,” Quenneville said. “I still think you have to find a way to do what you can to make a contribution and make a simpler game plan.”

Gustav Forsling is expected to play tonight. With Nick Schmaltz reassigned to Rockford earlier on Sunday – to get playing time but also due to cap issues – Andrew Desjardins will move over to center the fourth line.

Darling will start his second consecutive game and is expected to get a bulk of the work with Corey Crawford sidelined after his appendectomy on Saturday. Lars Johansson was recalled to be the Blackhawks’ backup in Crawford’s absence.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Connor Hellebuyck will start against the Blackhawks again tonight. Hellebuyck stopped 27 shots in a 4-0 victory over the Blackhawks on Nov. 15.

BLACKHAWKS VS. WINNIPEG JETS

6 p.m.

TV: CSN

Live Stream: CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports App

Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Ryan Hartman-Vinnie Hinostroza -Marian Hossa

Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger -Richard Panik

Tyler Motte-Andrew Desjardins-Jordin Tootoo

 

Duncan Keith-Brian Campbell

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling-Niklas Hjalmarsson

 

Scott Darling

 

INJURIES: Jonathan Toews (upper body), Corey Crawford (appendix).

Winnipeg Jets (via Winnipeg Free Press)

Nikolaj Ehlers-Bryan Little-Patrik Laine

Drew Stafford-Mathieu Perrault-Blake Wheeler

Andrew Copp-Adam Lowry-Marko Dano

Brandon Tanev-Alexander Burmistrov-Chris Thorburn

 

Josh Morrissey-Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom-Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot-Paul Postma

 

Connor Hellebuyck

 

INJURIES: Mark Scheifele (lower body), Joel Armia (lower body), Shawn Matthias (lower body), Tyler Myers (lower body).