As the Blackhawks head to Minnesota in preparation for another heated playoff game against the Wild Sunday, the team said they’re staying focused and ready to keep their winning streak in tact.
“Every game is huge but to be able to go up three-nothing would give us a huge advantage in the series,” said defenseman Duncan Keith.
The Blackhawks dispatched the Minnesota Wild 5-2 at the United Center on Friday night. Corey Crawford made 26 saves, Patrick Sharp and Michael Frolik each scored two goals, and Bryan Bickell tallied an empty net goal as the Hawks grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series.
But the team’s second win against the Wild won’t be easily repeated Sunday as the players expect their opponents to come back roaring in a home game.
“You’ve got to look forward to the next game and know that they’re going to come out with a better performance,” said Patrick Kane. “I’m sure the building will be rocking.”
Though many are comparing this year’s successes to the 2010 team that took home the Stanley Cup, Kane said the season is far from over.
“We’re still a long way away from doing what we did in 2010," he said. "It’s a different year."
But that doesn’t mean the players don’t have their hearts set on the cup.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday that although injured players Ray Emery and Dave Bolland are flying with the team, they will not be playing Sunday. But he didn’t rule out their return in the playoffs.
“When they say they’re ready we’ll gage it from that but I think that you’ve got to be smart,” Quenneville said.
But Quenneville said it’s the team’s consistency that’s gotten them this far, and he plans to focus on that going into the third game.
Could this season’s playoffs mark the Wild as the Blackhawks new rivals? Maybe.
“Things always heat up through playoffs series,” Quenneville said. “All of a sudden animosity grows, the rivalry, the hatred, the bitterness, the competitiveness…Especially now that they are going to be in our division that’s definitely setting the table for bringing back the tradition that was in place (with the Minnesota North Stars).”