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Hawks' goal: Slow down Red Wings

by Adam Kimelman /
DETROIT -- A day after losing Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks were back at work, now focusing on gaining a split of the opening games here at Joe Louis Arena.

The players also had another chance to analyze the video of what they did right and wrong in Game 1 Sunday afternoon and try to remedy the mistakes.

"They certainly have a lot of speed through the neutral zone and they always seem to be attacking with speed," center Patrick Sharp said. "We need to put our heads together and try to find a way to slow them up through the neutral zone. It seems like whenever they get rid of the puck they're putting it in position to get it back. They're a veteran team, lots of experience -- they know how to play well. It's going to take a big effort to beat them."

Part that effort includes hanging onto the puck longer and playing their style, rather than getting sucked into playing the way Detroit wants them to.

"The Wings are a fun team to watch," Sharp said. "They have such success with the way they play that maybe we changed our style of play throughout the game. (Sunday) I don't think we were skating as well as we could have and we got off our game plan. That's something we'll talk about and try to get better at for Game 2."

"I think we were trying to force things," added defenseman Brent Seabrook. "I think we were trying to force things from our own game. We're a young team and sometimes we get away from our game plan a little bit and we can't do that, especially now and especially against a team like Detroit. They're highly offensive and they feed off that stuff. We have to definitely shore that up and stick to our game plan."

Seabrook moving forward -- Brent Seabrook had a Game 1 he'd like to forget. While he had an assist on Kris Versteeg's goal early in the second that tied the game, 2-2, he also fumbled the puck at the Detroit blue line that led to Dan Cleary's breakaway goal in the first period, he took a hooking penalty that nearly led to another Detroit goal, and he collided with partner Duncan Keith early in the second in his own zone, which resulted in another Detroit chance. For the game, he was a minus-2 and was on the ice for three of Detroit's five goals.

"You try to forget about that one as quickly as you can," Seabrook said. "(Sunday) night I fought it a couple times. Bouncing pucks … you have to forget about it quick and move on."

Seabrook and Keith has been Chicago's top pairing all season, but collectively they were a minus-4 and each committed a penalty. Coach Joel Quenneville said he expects more out of the pair, especially Seabrook.

"That pair has been very effective for us all year, him and Dunks," said Quenneville. "They really work well together. We expect them to be a key force for us going forward. They get the top matchup. We're going to rely upon them as we go into each and every game. We expect them to do the job."

What we learned from Game 1 --
This year's Western Conference Finals is the third straight year the Red Wings have made the League's semifinal round -- been there, done that.

For the Blackhawks, one of the younger teams in the League, this is uncharted territory. It's the first time the team has been here since 1995.

It's a whole new experience, something the players learned the hard way in their 5-2 loss in Game 1.

"It's different from the first two (rounds)," defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "The intensity is up; everything is stepped up another level. It's the four best teams in the playoffs. It's hard to describe, just can't find the words to do it. It's definitely a different thing. Everybody is out there at the top of their game, at the top of their level. It's a fun game but at the same time it's one of those ones that you're worried about making mistakes sometimes and you can't do that."

Patrick Kane said the entire playoff run has been a learning experience, and this series will be another part of that.

"It's obviously a step up," he said. "You can go from regular season to playoffs to the second round to Game 5 of the second round to Game 6, and here you are playing the Wings in the conference final. It's a dream come true but it's a challenge at times. For me and Jonathan and lot of younger guys in here, it's a good thing, too, because you want to present yourself as learning and taking your experience from this type of situation. It's a fun situation, you want to be in it."

Kris Versteeg said it's great that his team has gotten this far, but he'll worry about that in the summer.

"You can't really get caught up in the moment," the Calder Trophy finalist told "It's more something you'll look back on after the season and be proud of the accomplishment of where you're at. Right now we're in the conference finals and the only thing we're thinking about is winning. We're not satisfied by being here. We have a lot of work to do and we have a long road ahead of us."
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