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Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Rough stuff comes out in long series

By Jesse Rogers

Barry Trotz
Predators coach Barry Trotz says the Hawks "have some people that rub us wrong, and I know we have some people that rub them wrong."
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The more you play people, day in and day out, the more you learn to hate them. -- Barry Trotz, 11:12 a.m., Tuesday

Everyone knows a regular season series of six games can bring out the nastiness between players with each passing contest. Add a playoff series that pits those players against each other every other night for up to 14 days, and nastiness just begins to describe what can happen.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators play Game 3 of their best-of-seven series Tuesday night and the rough stuff will only increase.

"It's like going to work every day," Trotz said after Predators practice Tuesday morning. "You don't always like the guy you're working with every day. They'll have some people that rub us wrong, and I know we have some people that rub them wrong."

Dustin Byfuglien agreed with that sentiment continuing with the work analogy.

"I'm sure you don't like your boss the more and more you see him," Bufuglien said after the Hawks skate. "It's the same thing. You got guys that may have whacked you before, so you whack them back. It’s the fun thing about the game. I believe it’s going to get a lot more physical these next couple games."

The Hawks' fourth line has chipped in some goals as of late, but they know their main purpose on the ice is to provide energy and that usually means doing so by taking the body.

"Physical play in the playoffs is huge," Colin Fraser said. "Huge part of momentum. Big hit, big play. It’s definitely a war the more times you see a team. That's how rivalries are built. It's playoff hockey."

Joel Quenneville believes it's a strategic thing as well, and he wants his team to push back even harder.

"We want to have emotion in our game," Quenneville said. "We want to be hard to play against and be physical. We feel like Nashville has had the puck a lot in the first couple of games, but I thought there was an escalation [in Game 2] in how we played with more emotion and the physicality was more noticeable. We had more hits on the stat sheet."

The Hawks had only two more hits in Game 2 than in Game 1, but the penalties increased as did the after the whistle stuff.

Adding more to the physical play can be important on the road. Other than a goal, getting physical can be a good way to take the crowd of it, at least for a while. It’s especially important in Nashville where the Hawks believe the home team gets a boost similar to the one the Hawks get at the United Center.

"It's really loud," Patrick Sharp said. "I can only imagine what it will be like in the playoffs. I remember watching the Predators and Red Wings series a couple years ago and the crowd was going nuts. It's going to be a crazy atmosphere, but I think that makes both teams better."

"Everytime we play in this building, in the regular season, it’s been tough. Ever since I came to the Hawks five years ago."

Sharp was asked if one benefit of playing on the road in the playoffs is a little less "in-your-face" pressure than at home.

"It's tough to say," Sharp said. "I think we feed off the atmosphere at home. Sure, I guess you can say there’s some extra pressure, but there’s pressure in [Tuesday night's] game as well."

If the word patient has been said once about this series, it’s been said a 1,000 times. Trotz doesn’t call playing the Predators style "dumbing" it down. He calls it playing smart. Quenneville agrees, stressing where the game is being played.

"I don’t think you want to be overly creative, especially on the road," Quenneville said. "I think that’s kind of the recipe when we’re playing them on the road. That has to be the mindset [Tuesday night]."

It has to be the mindset, no matter what. Otherwise a repeat of Game 1 is more likely than Game 2.