No team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has responded after a loss better than the Chicago Blackhawks. They hope the trend continues Friday night (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).
Chicago enters Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Philadelphia Flyers with a 5-0 record in contests that have followed a loss. The Blackhawks suffered a 4-3 overtime defeat in Game 3 at the Wachovia Center.
Now, it's time to respond the way they have all postseason long. But how have they been able to bounce back in the past?
"I think we've got some good coaches that prepare us well," forward Patrick Sharp
said. "We have a lot of players in the locker room that play with pride and don't want to lose two in a row. I think that's been a focus of ours all year. It doesn't matter what our past record is after a loss. Going forward, every game is the biggest game of the year. We've got to be ready to play tonight."
Perhaps Chicago's best response came during their Western Conference Semifinal matchup against the Vancouver Canucks. After a 5-1 drubbing in Game 1 at the United Center, the Blackhawks erased a 2-1 deficit by scoring three times in the third period en route to a 4-2 victory in Game 2. They also clinched the series in Game 6 with a 5-1 win, which came just 48 hours after a 4-1 loss.
"A lot of it is it seems like the pressure's off," forward Adam Burish said. "Right now, it feels like, 'Well, we lost a game. All we can do now is win.' It can't get any worse than losing a game. It doesn't feel like there's a lot of pressure once we've lost. Guys take a deep breath, they relax a little bit. We say, 'Let's be better now.' Usually, we have been."
Usually? More like all the time. It's that type of character that has the Blackhawks in the position they're in as a victory on Friday night would give them an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961 in front of their fans on Sunday at the United Center.
"It's hockey … you go play and you regroup … you want it," defenseman Brian Campbell said. "If we had answers for that, we'd answer those questions after wins as well. We know how important it is to get a split for us here. Tonight's a big situation. You look at it as your last game of the season."
Chicago finished the regular season with 52 victories and 112 points, good for the No. 2 seed in the West. Philadelphia, meanwhile, needed a shootout victory against the New York Rangers on the final day of the season just to qualify for the playoffs. That's why Flyers coach Peter Laviolette feels the pressure is on Chicago. But the Blackhawks aren't buying it.
"He's trying to be goofy ... he's trying to mess with us a little bit," Burish said of Laviolette. "I don't think it is. They're at home, they're supposed to win their games at home. The pressure's still on them. They won the last game. They've got the momentum. It's pretty loose in here. I don't think the guys feel a whole lot of pressure. We lost a game. It's 2-1 now. If we could find a way to sneak a win, we're in a pretty good spot. We haven't played our best hockey yet."
"You can shift pressure any way you want," he said. "The only pressure we feel is from each other and inside the locker. He can put all the pressure on us that he wants. It doesn't matter to us."
What does matter is that the Blackhawks respond the way they need to in order to take a 3-1 series lead. History is certainly in their favor.
"We like the response our team generally has … the personality we have," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're not happy about losing. Whether it's adjustments or we have to be harder to play against, it's kind of our mindset. That's what we're looking for today."
If they can't find it, the Blackhawks know what looms ahead. After all, they're facing a team that is 7-0 after Game 4 this postseason.
"It puts us in a great position if we win this one," Patrick Kane
said. "I think we're in for a long series if we lose."Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Staff Writer