Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Hawks guarding against letdown in opener
By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have recently been on both sides of a Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony and know quite well how difficult it can be for the home team to win on that day.
The Blackhawks had their 2010 banner-raising ceremony at the United Center ruined with a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Last season, the Blackhawks were behind the ruining as they spoiled the Los Angeles Kings’ ceremony with a 5-2 win.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has been trying to guard his players against having a similar emotional letdown Tuesday as they hoist their 2013 banner and then play the Washington Capitals. His goal is for the Blackhawks to come bursting out of the gate this season as they did in the 2013 season, which began with a 24-game points streak.
“I thought the start of our season last year put us in a perfect spot for the entire season,” Quenneville said. “Whether it’s the first period or that first win, it seemed to start us on the right foot. It’s something we’re trying to prioritize this season.
“There’s a lot of things you can achieve. Let’s worry about getting off to a great start. That’s our focus. Make sure [Tuesday] with all the distractions, all the fanfare and the event, enjoy it, but let’s go. Easier said than done, but I got to commend the guys’ focus and preparation coming into this camp. I would expect the same type of professionalism [Tuesday.]”
History is against the Blackhawks, though. Four of the last five Stanley Cup championships have lost in their home opener the following season.
Capitals forward Troy Brouwer, who was on the Blackhawks’ 2010 championship team, is shooting to continue that trend on Tuesday.
“It can be a distraction when you’re raising the banner,” Brouwer said. “I know when we had our first game after we had a whole red carpet [event.] I assume they’re doing the same thing again today. The ceremony is a long drawn out process that they have to be on the ice for. We get to sit in the room and rest and relax and kind of focus.
“We’re going to try to jump on them real quick because of that delayed start. Their mindset may not be focused 100 percent on hockey at the beginning of the game.”