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updated: 4/17/2012 8:26 AM

Hawks ready to feed off UC excitement

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  • Dave Bolland and his Blackhawks teammates appreciate the fan support they receive at the United Center.

      Dave Bolland and his Blackhawks teammates appreciate the fan support they receive at the United Center.
    Associated Press

  • Video: Crazy playoff hockey

 
 

There's no denying the "Whiteout" in Glendale was quite the spectacle.

"I thought their fans made it a great place to play," Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy said of the first two games of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona. "They had the whiteout the first game and the white pompons the second day -- that was pretty cool to see."

But ...

"Our fans will step up," he said. "And that can be a little intimidating to the opposing team when the crowd is screaming and you can't even hear the guy next to you. It definitely helps us out."

To the tune of a 28-7-6 record at the United Center during the regular season with the first postseason game on tap tonight.

From the fans to the anthem to the introductions to the game itself, nothing comes close to the show put on at the United Center.

"It's great; I can't wait to get out there and see 22,000 people screaming," Hawks forward Viktor Stalberg said.

"Just our home crowd and the anthem to start us up ... it gets us all fired up," Bryan Bickell added.

"We'll be excited about playing here, and let's take care of it," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We want to make sure that we take advantage of the building and the crowd."

And you know it's something special when even the opposing team is looking forward to coming to town.

"It'll be awesome," said Phoenix captain Shane Doan. "As an opposing player, you get up just as much, no matter if you're the home team or visiting team. When you have a crowd that's excited and there's energy just like our building, it's going to be similar and we expect it to be a lot of fun."

To a man, everyone in the Hawks locker room mentioned how important it was to leave Phoenix with a split and get back in front of the home crowd and what an advantage that will provide.

"You get comfortable at home," Viktor Stalberg said. "You're in your home, you're in your own locker room, you have the fans ... there's no distractions, really."

Plus there's the home-ice advantage of putting your line out last -- and for the Hawks that's a big advantage.

"The way we play, we match lines now and then and being at home gives us the advantage of that last shift -- no matter if it's (Dave) Bolland's line against their top line or whatever it might be just to get that little edge," Stalberg said.

The atmosphere doesn't hurt too much either.

"There'll be a great energy in the building," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "You love to go in there and play well in an atmosphere like that. just like our atmosphere at home was excellent, we expect the same thing there.

"But the game is played on the ice, not in the stands. The energy in the building is all great, but we still have to go in there and play well, do the things that help us to win."

mspellman@dailyherald.com

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