Sharp working overtime to sharpen his skills
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Patrick Sharp, left, who missed 20 of the Blackhawks' 48 regular-season games because of a shoulder injury, is hoping to play a key role in the playoffs.
It has been a frustrating season for Patrick Sharp.
Missing 20 of the Blackhawks' 48 games in the regular season with a left shoulder injury, Sharp is hoping things go better in the playoffs. He was still on the ice by himself a good 30 minutes after practice Thursday working on his shot.
"I haven't played a whole lot of games this year so I'm excited to get back and just kind of rejoin the team," Sharp said. "We have a great team and they've kind of made it easy on me to fit back in the lineup and I want to make sure I'm playing my best just like everybody else is."
Sharp is so much more than just a goal scorer on this Hawks team.
"He gives us some skill and he has the ability to create, be it off the rush or in zone," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "He's a threat to score when he's out there. He's an experienced guy, a veteran guy who leads us in some ways."
Sharp thinks the Hawks need to get off to a better start in Game 2. They played a sloppy first period in Game 1 -- yet they won 2-1 in overtime.
"Chalk it up to playoff hockey," Sharp said. "There aren't going to be too many easy games or easy opportunities to score. We feel comfortable playing that kind of game. We've proved we can be successful playing that way. We know what we're in for."
Third line comes up big:
The Hawks' third line of Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg made a all the difference in Game 1.
Not only did Bickell get the winning goal in overtime set up by Stalberg, the line combined for 12 hits, led by Shaw's 7.
"We don't think too much," Stalberg said. "We just go out and play hard and try to do everything we can to gain momentum or keep momentum."
The line has basically been together all season, a rarity for the Hawks.
"It's probably a good sign of confidence from the coaches that they've kept the line together," Stalberg said.
"They all seem to have lots of chemistry," Joel Quenneville said. "But I think they have improved the defensive part of their game and that's why they're in the offensive zone more."
Pick up the pace:
The Hawks hope to play at a better pace in Game 2 than on Tuesday when they got caught up in Minnesota's sluggish style.
"I think we want to rev up the pace a little bit and start playing a little faster and more like we did throughout the year," Patrick Kane said. "If we do that, I think we'll have good success.
"Sometimes you think too much that it's playoff hockey and maybe we were a little bit excited and nervous in here. You've almost got to treat it like any other game and play our pace."
Right wing Jason Pominville (concussion) didn't make the trip back with the Wild. ... Goalie Niklas Backstrom did make the trip but remains day to day with a lower body injury. ... Defenseman Clayton Stoner, who played only eight minutes in the opener, accompanied his teammates back to Chicago but is doubtful for Game 2.
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