The Hawks may have made the biggest mistake of their season. In losing their composure at the end of Game 3, the Blackhawks continually instigated the Flames, and specifically captain Jarome Iginla. While the inexperienced Hawks team may have been trying to throw Iginla off his game, they may have accomplished the exact opposite. Standing strong behind their fired-up captain, the Flames seem to have regained their swagger.
"He's not a guy you want to light a fire under... that guy's got a scary look when he gets mad and I wouldn't want to be on the other team facing off against him," said a defiant Eric Nystrom, who believes his opponents have bitten off more than they can chew.
"The only thing they can do is verbally abuse that guy because you're not going to physically intimidate him... He's not afraid of anybody, he's willing to take anybody on so, if they just want to talk and not back it up, only Iggy’s gonna get stronger.”
Iginla for one is downplaying the effect of the extra-curricular activities that closed the Flames win Monday at the 'Dome, but he makes it clear his team will put forth their response on the ice Wednesday night.
"I don't know about mad... but involved. We're all involved," said Iginla of his feelings on the loud Hawks team. "Trash talking is fine. Physically we've been carrying the play and we want to continue... Verbally, Nah... I'd rather dish it out physically."
Craig Conroy has seen Iginla take his game to the next level many times before; he knows what it can mean for the team going forward.
"It's always a good thing for us when Jarome gets fired up. When he's on that edge, that's when he's playing his best hockey," said Conroy. "I like it when he's got that because it gives him a little extra drive. He hits a little harder, he finishes checks, he goes to the net, he battles, and it's a good thing."
"Anytime you see Iggy battling like that, in the game to follow there's always good things happening," agreed David Moss, who feels the rest of the team has to elevate their game along with Iginla.
"In the playoffs you never know who it's going to be on a night to night basis. For a team to be successful you need everyone to contribute... that's what playoff hockey is all about, the emotion, it brings the best out of a lot of guys, and we are certainly not going to shy down."
The Flames know the young, and visibly shaken Hawks team hasn't dealt with a great deal of adversity this season, and that they may have difficulty responding as a result. Expecting a big start from their opponents, the Flames want to keep the play physical and limit opportunities for the Hawks to develop any momentum.
"You wear 'em down, every little bump they know it's coming, it's what they expect, and then all of a sudden they have to keep their heads up. It just makes it tougher mentally and physically," said Adrian Aucoin.
"We sent a good message (in Game 3) about how we can play, and how we're going to play," agreed Curtis Glencross.
Now that the team has confirmed what type of play is most effective for them , Iginla expects to keep it up and go back to Chicago with the series tied and the momentum squarely in their possession.
"We've had success in this series when we've been very physical, very intense and in your face, and we want to continue that, said Iginla. “We've got a lot of guys that naturally play that way, we play our best when we're playing that way, as a group we've had success doing that, this is great, this is what the playoffs are supposed to be about. It isn't supposed to be easy, and it hasn't been, and we're looking forward to (Game 4)."