Red-hot Blackhawks return home for extended stay

Red-hot Blackhawks return home for extended stay

Quenneville on Hawks ending road trip with 3-0 win

February 11, 2013, 10:30 am
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Chicago Blackhawks put their longest road trip of the season, a six-game trek through Western Canada, California, Arizona and Tennessee, in the rearview mirror on Sunday night.

It was a successful trip, one that built the team’s road record to an impressive 8-0-2 and overall mark to 10-0-2. Now the Blackhawks are looking to take what they did away from home and repeat it at the United Center.

The Blackhawks couldn’t have fared much better on the road this early season, as they weathered some tough travel and tougher opponents and kept improving as the trip continued. Now they’ll embark on a seven-game homestand, beginning Tuesday with the Anaheim Ducks. And for the Blackhawks, who went 27-8-6 at the United Center last season, continuing their successful 2012-13 campaign means playing at home like they did on the road.

“We don’t want to change anything,” coach Joel Quenneville said following the Blackhawks’ 3-0 victory over Nashville, the team’s first shutout in nearly two years. “We don’t want to feel like, now that we’re at home, we can let the air out. We want to play the same way. We like the contributions across the board.”

Indeed, the Blackhawks’ success has been a team-wide affair. Everybody’s pitched in on the defense. Everybody’s pitched in on the scoring. Goaltending’s been strong. So have special teams. They’ve played workmanlike hockey, and they need to keep that mentality. When they return home, they can’t fall into the trap of getting too fancy just to entertain the home crowd.

“You look at our two games at home, we did a good job playing the same way. We weren’t trying to outscore them. We want to keep within our systems,” Viktor Stalberg said. “Sometimes you get too excited paying in front of the crowds. I know we struggled at times last year when we tried to put on too much of a show.”

And there’s one more detail the Blackhawks may want to do at home like they did on the road: focus on themselves, not their opponent.

“I don’t think we knew who we were playing next the whole road trip. We weren’t looking ahead,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “I think our team’s done a good job of staying in the moment and taking it game by game.”

That was evident. The Blackhawks weren’t phased that San Jose was off to such a torrid start, didn’t get caught up a whole lot in the Raffi Torres return against Phoenix. It was about their game, their work ethic, and not what their opponent may or may not do.

The Blackhawks played 10 of their first 12 games on the road this season and came through it just fine. They’re back in their familiar surroundings now. But they want to bring that road style of game into their home building.

“We have a busy home schedule, but we don’t want to change our approach,” Quenneville said. “It’s not going to be getting any easier. We faced six tough buildings on this trip, but we should be excited about playing in front of our fans. We should bring more consistency to our game.”