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Confidence on Blackhawks' side entering Game 2

Chicago, with Keith back, in familiar spot down one game to St. Louis

by Amalie Benjamin @amaliebenjamin / Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- This is a place the Chicago Blackhawks have been before, literally (down 1-0 to the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis in a best-of-7 series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs) and mentally (in a hole to a team that has the talent and ability to prevail). They know what to do, how to act, and what needs to happen for them to win.

Plus, of course, there's Duncan Keith.

Even if the Blackhawks weren't the comfortable, confident group they are, a team that's won the Stanley Cup three times in the past six seasons, they know they'll get one of the best defensemen in the NHL back for Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round on Friday with Keith's six-game suspension over (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-CHI, FS-MW, SN, TVA Sports 2).

"He's a huge piece of our defense," Chicago forward Patrick Kane said. "Plays a lot of minutes, plays in a lot of big situations, every situation. And you know he's ready to get back and he's rarin' to go.

"So when you have someone come back into your lineup now … with the swagger he has, how much he loves playing the game of hockey, especially at this high of a level, it's only going to be a positive for our team. Obviously we're looking forward to having him back."

 Video: Keith on returning for Game 2

That swagger is Keith's, but it is also Chicago's. It's what they've earned from a half-dozen years of winning and coming back, from being the team with the target that it's so hard to pick against.  

"We've pretty much been through it all with this group, so we have a lot to look back on and use some different experiences, especially going forward," Kane said. "Obviously, every year, every series, every game is different, but I guess you can look back a couple years ago and say we were in this situation, down 1-0, lost it in an overtime game, and we didn't take advantage of that in Game 2.

"So we're looking to do what we came here to do: Win one game on the road and try to get back to United Center even up here and move forward."

Over the past six seasons, the Blackhawks have lost Game 1 six times out of 17 series and won four of those series. That includes losing the first two games to the Blues in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, each game in overtime, before coming back to win four straight in the best-of-7 series.

So, yes, after a fluky goal by Blues forward David Backes 9:04 into overtime of Game 1, the Blackhawks aren't exactly feeling bad about themselves. They still have the faith.

Video: CHI@STL, Gm1: Backes' pass deflects in for OT winner

"We're a confident group," Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "We know what we're capable of. We've been in situations like this before in every series. They have a good team over there in St. Louis and we have to come out with our 'A' game for the rest of the series."

That doesn't mean they're overconfident. But confident? Sure.

"I don't think you ever just brush it off," Seabrook said of losing the first game. "But I think for our group, we've been here before and we've been in this situation. ... We're comfortable in the way we play and how we do things here in Chicago."

That wasn't the attitude of everyone on the Blackhawks. Coach Joel Quenneville made sure to needle his players, to puncture any ease about their current position. They have lost a game to the Blues, putting St. Louis one game closer to the second round. That's important, even as the Blackhawks seem to show they don't feel any pressure.

"I don't know if we should feel good about ourselves because I think that was a game we should have won," Quenneville said. "But at the same time, knowing that it's not going to be easy. I think when we get mad, we get angry, we get better. Being satisfied is not really what we want to feel or experience, knowing that there were some positives but there are some areas we have to get back at."

It is easy to believe the pressure still resides on the St. Louis side of the ice. Not only are the Blues hosting the first two games, but they are the ones who have yet to prove they can make it out of the first round with the group they have, having failed to do so each of the past three years.

The Blackhawks have done it. They know they can do it, especially with Keith in the lineup. They don't have to worry. Not yet.

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