CHICAGO -- It’s possible to be pleased with oneself, but still not satisfied.
With a few days between series, the Chicago Blackhawks are feeling a bit of both. They viewed beating the Minnesota Wild in six games as a significant accomplishment. They also understand they need to continue to elevate their play if they’re going to be successful in the Western Conference finals.
“I would think the challenges get bigger every round, and every game in the middle of rounds,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday. “But the one thing people might think we didn’t play very well against Minnesota. I’ll discount that 100 percent, knowing we just beat a heck of a hockey team that plays a game that doesn’t make it look pretty in order to get through it.”
Quenneville believes the Blackhawks adjusted as they had to against the Wild and prevailed because they were able to adapt to their situation.
“You got to fight for your space, the more indirect plays you make the more success you have,” Quenneville said. “And I think that might be a little against the way we play or some of our player strengths, but I think that finding a way to get it done was complimentary to our team and it was hard work. It was very much similar to the St. Louis series. I think the guys earned it and deserved it, but it certainly was, you know, I think we have a lot of respect for our opponent. They were a big factor in how it appeared.”
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane had similar thoughts.
“Minnesota’s a tough team to play against, so we’re not going to take any credit away from them,” Kane said. “They played a great series. They played us very tough, but at the end of the day we came out on top and that’s the most important thing. We got to be happy about that. If that means we go through every series like that and come out on top, I think all of us will take it. But we know we have another level and gear, we know we can get to that, and hopefully it’ll come in Game 1 of the conference finals.”
“Simple things, less turnovers,” Bickell said. “For Minnesota's chances, they're getting them from our turnovers. So if we eliminate those and keep the puck behind our net, we have a better opportunity to keep our offense going.”
Saad believes simplifying allows the Blackhawks more offensive zone possession.
“Sometimes we try to do too much,” Saad said. “That [leads to] turnovers, and they go the other way. I think keep it simple, and once we get in zone time, our team plays real well in zone and transition. I think doing those things will definitely help us.”