DETROIT – The Blackhawks aren’t accustomed to losing multiple games and so when they faced some adversity this week against the Detroit Red Wings, coach Joel Quenneville was curious to see how they would respond.
No one inside the Hawks’ dressing room expected the Western Conference semifinals to be easy, so Quenneville wasn’t shocked when his team managed to take a couple of competitive setbacks in stride.
“Our group is fine – we’re definitely disappointed, we haven’t been in this position all year and we’ve quietly gone about our business,” Quenneville said after Thursday’s morning skate.
“But I think it’s a good test for us, it’s a good challenge. You’re going to get tested along the way. It’s never a smooth road and there’s always obstacles and hurdles you have to overcome.”
Quenneville said losing Games 2 and 3 got his team’s attention, marking the first time all season the Hawks have been forced to deal with the kind of struggles teams such as Detroit did. The Red Wings needed to finish 7-3-1 just to keep their consecutive streak of playoff appearances alive.
Now, they’re giving the Hawks all they can handle.
“This seems to be the first time we’re running into some tough adversity. There’s nothing wrong with that,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “That’s something you have to face come playoff time. You don’t win a Stanley Cup without going through something like that. We have to welcome it and whatever they throw at us, we have to smile and throw it right back in their face. That’s what playoff hockey is all about.”
Earning your keep: Defenseman Brent Seabrook played only 17 minutes in the Hawks’ 3-1 loss in Game 3. When asked why, Quenneville pointed to a combination of factors.
“Whether it’s a matchup or how the game is being played, how we’re playing, how he’s playing reflects that,” Quenneville said. “Our defense has been pretty solid throughout most of the season, but we need everybody to be strong and we’ve got to be comfortable with everybody against everybody and so we’re looking for more.”
Puck luck: Hockey coaches tend to talk of getting pucks bouncing in the right direction sometimes as lucky or unlucky. But Quenneville, whose team had a few pucks in Game 3 that could have found the net but instead hit posts and crossbars, said he believes the chances have more to do with effort than anything else.
“I think we played good enough that we could have had a couple [shots] that could have worked our way,” he said. “But you’ve got to fight your way through that type of situation, but we feel like you earn them by how you complete and the frequency of getting those bounces eventually may turn.”