- Scott Powers, Reporter
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CHICAGO -- There are certain advantages to having played as much playoff hockey as the Chicago Blackhawks have in recent years.
The Blackhawks certainly have a lot of experience to draw on. They have been the team trying to close out an opponent, and they have been the one being closed on. They’ve faced must-win games at home and on the road. The Blackhawks have experienced mostly success, but they’ve endured failure, too. The fact that they have seen it all over the years makes them a confident group, regardless of the situation.
Facing them now is a 3-2 series deficit to the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference finals. The Blackhawks have to win Game 6 on Wednesday in Chicago to keep their season alive.
As in the past, the Blackhawks aren’t intimidated by their present circumstances. Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson went as far as describing the upcoming Game 6 as “fun."
“It's more fun to play these games than the normal games,” Hjalmarsson said Tuesday after the team returned to Chicago. “When it's all on the line, I think that's what you want to play. You want to play at this time of year. You want to play elimination games -- obviously, come up on the winning side. That's the most fun games to play.”
The Blackhawks have been on both sides of their fair share of elimination games. Last season, they trailed the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 in the Western Conference finals and ended up losing in overtime of Game 7. In 2013, the Blackhawks were down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings and won the series. In 2012, they were down 3-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes and lost in six games. In 2011, they trailed the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 and lost in seven games. In 2009, the Blackhawks trailed the Red Wings 3-1 and lost in five games. All together, the Blackhawks are 9-4 when facing elimination since Quenneville took over in 2008-09.
“It's something we know we've done before,” Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad said Tuesday. “When we're in tight situations like this, we have a veteran group that has been through it, and we know how to win games. We got to take care of tomorrow. It's one game at a time.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville thought experience could be helpful for his team, but his players also needed to pull from the emotions of Game 5.
“I think we've been behind the 8-ball a few times,” Quenneville said. “I think back to being down 3-1 in Detroit [in 2013]. We've been in some tough spots before and put ourselves back. In this series, we've been behind for the third time. Putting ourselves in the spot of trying to have to win one game -- that's our mindset.
“We know that they got a pretty good hockey team there, but we have to play our best game. We can talk about different things going into games, you can visit history, you can look at past games, big games, big moments. There's a lot of history here that we've collected over seven years. A lot of positive things. I think we all came out of last night's game with an anger and a real sour taste in our mouth. Sometimes, that can be better than a history lesson.”
The Ducks understand the task ahead at the United Center.
“[When] you’ve lost a few games, the next game you come back, and you’re hungry. You know they’re going to be hungry,” Ducks forward Corey Perry said. "It’s a tough building to play in, tough crowd. At the same time, we’re going to be ready. We’re going to use this day to be ready and prepared. Hopefully, tomorrow night we have our best.”
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