Q. In last year's first round of the playoffs against Los Angeles, St. Louis won the first two games and then lost four in a row to get eliminated. How heavy is that monkey going to be on Sunday?
A. There's a lot being made about that. Very eerie similarities. Every game last year (against the Kings) for St. Louis was almost the same score as this year against the Blackhawks, including a shutout in Game 3. There have been a lot of comparisons. Sure, it's on their minds.
At the same time, it's a different team because St. Louis has more playoff experience and Olympians on the team. They won't go down easy. St. Louis is going to come out fast and give it all they have.
Q. How important is Brent Seabrook's return?
A. It will be a big emotional lift. Sure, the Hawks went out and won three without Brent in the lineup. And you have to give kudos to Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival. Sheldon was paired with Duncan Keith (Seabrook's regular defensive partner) a lot of the time, and was really, really good. He kept it simple, scored points, played hard. He was replacing one of the top defenseman in the National Hockey League.
Q. Which team will be squeezing their sticks a bit more Sunday?
A. The hardest game of any series is the elimination game. If you have the chance to get (the series win) in six, you obviously want to do it in six. If you're Chicago, you want to end it Sunday. You do not want to go back to St. Louis for a Game 7 because anything can happen in a Game 7.
I thought Game 5 (Friday night) was the closest game of them all. Game 6 will probably be the same. Both teams have to take care of business.
Q. As a visiting player, how difficult is it to play at the United Center when the crowd is at full throat? Is that "advantage" overrated?
A. It's crazy this year. Look at the Western Conference and only two visiting teams have won on the road. It's been very difficult (for visitors) away from home. Is there an advantage? St. Louis had a very loud crowd (Friday). If there is (an advantage) you have to take it with a grain of salt and for what it's worth. These are two very good teams who have battled hard.
Whether you look at the crowd as an advantage, the game is still played on the ice, and the game is still won on the ice.
Q. With such evenly matched teams, is winning the first round of the playoffs the toughest?
A. This first round has been amazing hockey. Even with this series being as close as it's been, do you say the first round is the toughest? Is winning the Stanley Cup Final series the toughest? They're all tough.
Chicago has a 3-2 series lead, but a matter of inches, literally, could have made the difference in any game. It's that close. No one is giving up.
Sunday's will be the toughest game yet. And the hardest to win.
• Troy Murray is in his 14th year as a member of the Blackhawks broadcast team and his ninth year as the color analyst for the team's radio broadcasts. The Selke Award winner was a five-time 20-goal scorer and a veteran of 15 years in the NHL, playing in 915 career games.