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Hawks motivated by recent playoff history

4/29/2013

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks view this season's playoffs as a way of redeeming themselves from first-round exits the past two years.

"I think obviously even after the Vancouver series two years ago we were frustrated with the way things ended up," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said on Monday. "Now two years removed, we don't think we can be hungrier to have success. I think we just need to show that in our game."

The Blackhawks are focused on their upcoming first-round series, which begins Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. But with so many players having experienced the last two seasons which ended with first-round losses to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2012 and the Canucks in 2011, they certainly haven't forgotten about what happened.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane can recount the details of their series against the Coyotes and Canucks like they were yesterday. The Blackhawks, who were the No. 8 seed, lost to the top-seeded Canucks in seven games in 2011, and the third-seeded Coyotes defeated the sixth-seeded Blackhawks in six games last season.

"I think a couple years ago it was a little bit different after sneaking in [the playoffs] not even on our own destiny when Dallas was also there," Kane said. "We snuck in the first round. Maybe it was one of those things we got behind the 8-ball pretty quick against Vancouver, down 3-0, tough to come back from that.

"I think last year everyone was confident in our team and excited about we can do. Just kind of ran into a hot goaltender, maybe got outplayed a little bit, too."

Even Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't shy away from talking about the past few seasons and how the team and its fans expect better results this season, especially after leading the league with a 36-7-5 record and 77 points.

"I think everybody's got something to prove," Quenneville said. "I think when we look at the season we had, the success we had, expectations are in place. Whether they're expectations from our fans, from our organization, from one another, I think that's a healthy situation.

"I think we should go into these playoffs knowing anything can happen. We're very respectful for our opponent. You look at their lines, you look at their lineup, it's a dangerous team. But I'm going to be concentrating on what we have to do, and we should all be motivated to continue on what we've accomplished this season."

Kane also believes this year's team is more prepared for the playoffs than the last two seasons.

"This year I think a lot of us have playoff experience now, and we've been around the past four years in the playoffs," Kane said. "This time of the year is the best time of year to be playing hockey. The weather gets warm. The fans are excited. Intensity ramps up a bit, and we're excited about it for sure."