Ladies and gentlemen, we have a playoff series with the Red Wings that is not as easy as the Blackhawks may have thought.
It will be interesting to see which team will show up for Coach Joel Quenneville: the one from the first game that dominated Detroit, or the one that got dominated in game two.
With the series knotted at a game apiece, there is absolutely no panic with the team that just lost home ice advantage.
The Blackhawks have been a good road team this season, especially at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. So maybe the Hawks players don't think Detroit sucks as much as fans chant at the United Center.
The Blackhawks are 10-0-1 in the last 11 regular season games in Motown. The Joe Louis arena has a quicker ice surface with quirky end and side boards. Quenneville said it makes for a "livelier game". Players like defenseman Duncan Keith said the Detroit arena is "fun" and the Hawks need to have a "do or die attitude" when they go on the road.
That is the feeling you get from listening to Coach Q about Viktor Stalberg. The swift-skating Swede was not active the first two games and was relegated to wearing the white jersey in practices until Sunday. Stalberg admitted it was frustrating having to watch the first two games instead of playing. Maybe there is a method to the coach’s madness and this may be an impetus for Stalberg to perform at a higher level and allow the Hawks to take advantage of their fastest skater. He will play in game three. Stalberg is also a free agent once the season ends…is he playing for a contract?
If there is one Blackhawk who responses to challenges well and the ratcheting up of post-season, it has to be Dave "The Rat" Bolland. He will move up to the second line with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. Bolland has a way that just gets under the skin of his opponent and if he can do that with Detroit Captain Henrik Zetterberg it can pay dividends. Here is an idea for NBC: put a microphone on Bolland.
That could be the most priceless audio of the playoffs. Remember it was Bolland that was vocal about calling Vancouver’s Dan and Henrik Sedin "the Sedin sisters”. That would be some fun “thinking outside of the box” for a league that still needs to do more for its sport.
The Hawks will look to make it a more physical game while staying out of the penalty box in game three. It hasn’t hurt them since they are perfect with their penalty kill. Andrew Shaw has been in the box three times this series, including once for Bolland. Shaw knows the series will start getting more physical.
"It’s playoff hockey, there is going to be some hatred and we got to compete and play as physical as we can," he said.
There was a sense from talking to players and listening to Quenneville that they will put some pressure on the elite Red Wings players—something that was missing on Saturday.