Blackhawks on mission to finish Bruins
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With all due respect to their fans, the Blackhawks would rather not spend time with them at the United Center again until training camp.
On the other hand, a parade in the middle of the week would be fine.
The Hawks know that anything can happen in a Game 7 and they don't want to take any chances with the bounce of a puck or the edge of a skate.
They would very much like to finish off the Bruins in Boston in Game 6 on Monday night.
"We've got a lot of respect for that team and what they've accomplished," said Patrick Sharp. "They've been in tough situations before and they've responded. We don't have any doubt about how hard they're going to make this for us if we want to win it there."
There is plenty of hatred to go around in this series, more than enough, in fact, to satisfy the casual NHL fan, but there is also an impressive amount of admiration from both sides.
You hear it in the voices of the players — and especially from the coaches.
While Darryl Sutter frequently mocked the media for presenting the Hawks as the greatest team of all time, Joel Quenneville and Claude Julien have not tried to hide their appreciation for how hard both teams are working in this series, and the sacrifice they're making physically.
"Well, it's been a war," Quenneville said. "It's been a battle. It's every game, fighting for every shift.
"It's a fast-paced game. You look at every minute from Game 1 to where we're at today, it's been an amazing series and relentless hockey, and I commend the guys on both teams for leaving it out on the ice."
The Bruins will undoubtedly do that in Game 6, and even if he doesn't have Patrice Bergeron — his best player in the postseason — Julien has in his back pocket the knowledge that his team overcame the exact same deficit in 2011, winning Game 6 at home and Game 7 in Vancouver to capture the Stanley Cup.
"Well, it's pretty obvious. It's do or die," Julien said. "We've been there before, and we've done well in that situation. So we've got to, again, win the next game.
"Right now our goal is to create a Game 7, and to create a Game 7 you've got to win Game 6. So that's our approach. We've been good at home, and we need to be good at home next game. It's as simple as that. Again, there is no panic. You're not going to push us away that easily. We're a committed group, and we plan on bouncing back."
So while the Bruins focus on the first 20 minutes of the next game, the Hawks will be distracted by the 20 hours leading up to the game.
With a chance to clinch, family will be flying in from all over the world, and securing tickets for the VIPs will be a focal point, something they remember well from Game 6 in Philadelphia three years ago.
"It's a circus for sure," Sharp said. "It was in Philly, but we have to find a way to focus on the game, which is going to be a hard game.
"The approach has to be that it's just one game and that it's going to be a tight game, just like it was against the Flyers. No team goes away easily this time of year and the Bruins won't. The Flyers scored with, what, about 4 minutes left to tie it? We had to go to overtime. This game could be like that. We expect it to be tough.
"The key is our depth. It takes everyone to win a game and that's how we've gotten to this point."
So the Hawks will do their best to stay on an even keel, even though in their minds will be thoughts of a celebration.
"I'm sure some guys will be thinking about that, that the Stanley Cup is in the building," said Brent Seabrook. "But you have to put that out of your mind and just play each shift. It starts with a good start to the game, and that's what we have to keep in our minds."
That will be no easy task for the Hawks as they try to win their second Cup in four hockey seasons. They have only eight players remaining from that championship team, and the rest of the roster will be a bundle of nerves.
If they use that energy to jump on the Bruins early, they will make it difficult for a tired Boston team to fight back.
"You want to play it like it's any other game," Sharp said. "Play the way we have all season and try to pull one out here on the road."
Even in a shortened season, it's been a long road for the Hawks, but when they come home Tuesday, they don't want to face another morning skate.
All they want now is another morning parade.
•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.
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