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updated: 11/28/2010 9:11 PM

New Hawks feeling right at home

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  • Troy Brouwer celebrates his goal with teammates Jassen Cullimore and Jack Skille during the third period against Anaheim on Friday.

      Troy Brouwer celebrates his goal with teammates Jassen Cullimore and Jack Skille during the third period against Anaheim on Friday.
    Associated Press

  • San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, right, of Finland, deflects a shot next to Chicago Blackhawks right wing Troy Brouwer during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.

      San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, right, of Finland, deflects a shot next to Chicago Blackhawks right wing Troy Brouwer during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.

 
 

LOS ANGELES -- It didn't take long for Viktor Stalberg to realize that fitting in with his new team, the Blackhawks, was going to go pretty smoothly.

"Right when I got here in August I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but Jonathan Toews took me in and let me stay at his place in the weeks before camp and let me hang out that was great," Stalberg said. "A small thing like that helps a new guy out a lot, especially being in a new city. I didn't have a car, stuff like that, and he was great to me.

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"Everyone else kind of offered to let me stay with them so that was really nice."

While Stalberg had no problems fitting in with the defending champs, if any of the many new off-season arrivals were still struggling, the 12-day, six-game circus trip through Canada and California in which the Hawks went 4-2 should put an end to any lingering bonding issues.

"I hope so," said Troy Brouwer, who celebrated Friday's win in Anaheim by going to see a movie with Stalberg and Niklas Hjalmarsson. "It's been long enough and guys have hung out enough I really hope that they feel part of the team.

"It's not like we're trying to exclude the new guys by any means because it's the worst thing we could ever do."

Looks like it's been working.

"We've got a lot of guys from last year and a lot of new guys, but I think most of the new guys get along pretty well," Stalberg said. "There haven't really been too many cliques or anything like that. Everyone gets along.

"It's been a good road trip, we've had a lot of fun and for the most part we've taken care of business, except for that loss in Calgary."

So now with the bonding topic officially in their rear-view mirror and carrying momentum from consecutive wins in Anaheim and Los Angeles with them, the Hawks arrive home realizing it's time to take care of business at the United Center, where they've struggled early on.

But how can they transfer the success they've had on the road to home ice?

"You have to remember what you did in those wins," defenseman Brian Campbell said. "Not get too high and expect in the next game it's just going to happen.

"I think that has been a little bit of our problem where we just think, 'Well, we just won that game. It'll be an easy game next game and we'll just play the same as we did before.' It just doesn't happen that way."

Added Duncan Keith: "We just have to keep playing like we did (against Anaheim and L.A.); have that mindset that we're not going to change anything and that every game is going to be the same way."

That means passing on the flash and opting instead to keep it simple at home; a premise that sounds basic enough, but one that hasn't been followed too often on UC ice thus far.

"We want to (play simple) on home-ice but for some reason we've had a hard time doing it," Stalberg said. "There's been a lot of expectations in Chicago this year they won pretty much every home game last year and went all the way.

"You have to get out of the feeling that we need to put on a show and take care of business first. I'm sure when we start doing all the little things right we'll be able to play a little bit more fun hockey later on."

But can the Hawks practice what they preach, beginning Tuesday night against St. Louis?

"I think we can," Brouwer said. "It's just that simple play. We try to impress the crowd a little too much I think.

"The crowd may not like a grind-it-out game, but they like wins. I think they like wins a little bit more."

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