CHICAGO -- The Stanley Cup Playoffs can be an exercise in anger management. The Western Conference Quarterfinal series between Phoenix and Chicago is becoming a graduate course in the subject.
Players and coaches on both sides tried to rein in their emotions Wednesday, less than a day after the Blackhawks' Marian Hossa was taken off the ice on a stretcher after the Coyotes' Raffi Torres hit Hossa's chin with his shoulder early in Game 3 at the United Center.
Phoenix went on to win 3-2 on an overtime goal from Mikkel Boedker. Game 4 is Thursday.
Hossa, who was released from the hospital Tuesday night, will miss at least Game 4. Torres has been suspended indefinitely pending an in-person hearing at the League office on Friday.
A night after tempers ran high in the Blackhawks' locker room, they were a bit more measured on Wednesday. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews ruled out retaliation against a random Coyote.
"Getting into that garbage isn't going to win the series for us," Toews said.
Said defenseman Duncan Keith, "We've got to play hockey and play the right way."
"I think retaliation in the best form is trying to win the hockey game," Quenneville said. "I think we want to channel a little positiveness to looking forward to the game and doing something about it."
But Toews, while mentally recovered from a concussion that caused him to miss the last 22 games of the regular season, is still feeling a bit creaky from the two-month layoff. Skating prior to returning brought his legs back, but not everything.
"For the most part, it's timing and speed; it's energy," Toews said Monday. "It's all those things, and it'll keep coming. I felt a did a few things better in the second game, whether it was faceoffs or chipping pucks out, options on the power play. Little things I improved on."
Toews played nearly 20 minutes (of nearly 70) in Game 1, and more than 17 minutes in Game 2, which also went halfway into the first overtime.
He's taking his usual role on the power play, was a combined plus-4 in the first two games, and appears to have not missed a beat. But he's a tough judge.
"I feel my game is slowly going to come together," Toews said. "It definitely wasn't all there the first two games, but I feel it'll keep improving."
Toews must be feeling well. He even half-cracked a smile when asked what the answer to keeping the momentum after scoring the game's first goal would entail.
"Probably trying to score the next one would be a solution to that," quipped Toews.
A funny line from Captain Serious in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Go figure.
Check Brandon Bollig's blood-sugar level, then, for he scored goal No. 1 of his career in Game 2 of the Blackhawks' Western Conference Quarterfinal series with Phoenix.
"That it came in the playoffs and it tied the game up is an amazing feeling," Bollig said of scoring the Hawks' second goal in Saturday's 4-3 overtime win in Glendale, Ariz. "It was great to see the activity on my phone from people happy for me."
Bollig, an undrafted free agent signed by the Hawks two years ago, played 18 regular-season games and collected neither a goal nor an assist. Considered an enforcer, he plays that role well, but knows
he'll have to show more, or the next young kid who comes along will take his spot.
"Obviously what got me here was that physical side, that enforcer-type role, but yeah, I think what's going to make me stick is bringing more to the game than just that," he said. "That's what I'm trying to
Timely goals in playoff games will do that. For Bollig, just breathing before Game 1 was a triumph.
"Being a part of (the playoffs), I almost had to have the doc check my heart rate, it was so high," Bollig said. "It's definitely fun to be a part of games like that. You get a lot more amped up."Whatever happens next, he'll have both the memory and evidence of it. The puck he got past Mike Smith will be mounted on a plaque for him.
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I challenged him to a goalie fight when we chatted before the game, but he didn't want to go. It was strange to see him at the other end of the ice, but I'm sure he felt the same way looking down at our end.