Return of 'The Rat' has teammates smiling
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Bryan Bickell and his Blackhawks teammates expect a more physical effort from the Red Wings today in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series at the United Center.
When Dave Bolland mixed it up with Detroit's Justin Abdelkader in the second period in Game 1 with both players tumbling to the ice, it drew smiles from the Blackhawks' bench.
The Rat was back.
Bolland played 11:36 in his first game back in the lineup in more than two weeks because of a sore groin, which just happened to be where Abdelkader put his stick.
"He got me a little in the groin area," Bolland said. "It's not a good area to get someone, but things like that happen. It's the playoffs. Little extra jabs, a little extra everything."
Linemate Bryan Bickell was one of those teammates smiling.
"It showed that he's here for the team," said Bickell. "It shows he wants to be here and he's going to do whatever it takes to win."
Bolland came back to centering the third line for Bickell and Andrew Shaw like he did last year in the playoffs.
Bolland centered the second line during the regular season.
"I thought he played really well," said Bickell. "From last year when me and Shawzie and (Bolland) played together, it felt like the old days. We felt good and felt like we got our chemistry back."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville got exactly what he expected from Bolland.
"I liked his game," Quenneville said. "He hadn't played in a while. But the one thing, come playoff time, Bolly seems to elevate his game. You know the predictability of how he's going to be. He leaves it out there. He's got that grittiness and that sandpaper that you appreciate and notice."
The Hawks expect a different kind of Game 2 on Saturday, mostly from a physical aspect.
"We expect a harder game and I'm sure it's going to be more physical," Joel Quenneville said. "For us, don't wait for it to happen; expect it to happen."
Detroit rookie center Damien Brunner says it's up to the Red Wings to come with a better effort.
"We have to do a better job," Brunner said. "In the second and third periods they were all over us. So it's up to us to do a better job, skate better and put them under pressure and don't let them come out that easy.
"There's a reason that they're first and they had a great record in the beginning of the season and they've beat us five times, so we know they're a good team."
The Red Wings flew back to Detroit after Game 1 and returned Friday.
"We really felt the break was going to help us," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "The way this series is set up, we have no reason not to be very good next game."
Looking back at Game 1, Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said his team turned over the puck too much.
"We have to take care of the puck," Howard said. "We turned the puck over way too much at our blue line. It seemed like we were almost out of our zone and then they were right back in. We have to do a better job of getting the puck out."
Nobody appreciates how well the Hawks' forward backcheck more than goalie Corey Crawford.
"It's important with the amount of speed and skill today's forwards
have, your defense can only do so much," Crawford said. "Our defense has done a great job this year, but it's even better when our guys are coming back and putting pressure on their forwards from the back end."
And nobody does it better than Selke Trophy candidate Jonathan Toews.
"He's one of our leaders," Crawford said. "He does everything well on the ice. He does it all. We follow that. He's our captain and leader in the room. He leads by example."
Duncan Keith (maintenance) and Michal Handzus (sore back) didn't practice Friday but will play in Game 2, according to Joel Quenneville. ... Detroit left wing Drew Miller, who has yet to play in the playoffs because of a hand injury, could return to the lineup.
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