Confident Blackhawks face unique situation: Leading series 3-0
ST. PAUL – How calm were these Blackhawks the day after taking a commanding lead in their second round series?
A few of the players arrived to their news conference at the Minneapolis Westin wearing flip-flops or hotel slippers. They were obvious to the reporters in attendance since the table the players were sitting at didn’t have a curtain that reached to the floor.
Does this reflect a relaxed team? Probably. Confident? Most likely.
But at the very least the Blackhawks are leery of the Wild as they face a situation that’s a bit unique to the club even in the successful Joel Quenneville era of the franchise. On Wednesday the team entered an off day with a 3-0 lead.
It’s the first time that’s happened since the 2010 run to the Stanley Cup when the Blackhawks won the first three games of their Western Conference Finals series with the Sharks. They’d go onto win Game 4 and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Quenneville remembers that and the one difference in this series than that one-Game 4 will be played on the road. It’s one of the many reasons he’s put the brakes on any talk about the West Finals.
“Being in the playoffs you never want to get ahead of yourself,” said Quenneville of being up 3-0. “There are always different challenges, different swings that can happen.”
Just ask those Sharks whom the Hawks led 3-0 back in 2010. Last year they won the first three against the Kings only to lose the next four in the first round. Los Angeles would ride that momentum to a Stanley Cup Championship-which included a victory over the Blackhawks in the Conference Finals.
Back in 2011 Chicago came very close to flipping a series against Vancouver as they won three straight after being down 3-0 before eventually losing to the Canucks in overtime of Game 7.
"We expect them to come out hard. They're not going to give up. They're not going to give up and roll over," said center Andrew Shaw of the Wild. "They're a great team. We've had some really tight games with them."
Especially on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks and the Wild put on a defensive show for 60 minutes at the Xcel Energy Center but it was Corey Crawford who stole the show. In one of his finest playoff performances Crawford turned away 30 Wild shots on the evening to preserve at 1-0 win and a 3-0 lead.
It came on the heels of wins in Chicago that are apart of a four-game winning streak overall for the Blackhawks who are looking more and more like a favorite to take home their third Stanley Cup in six seasons.
"I think we can be confident with how we are playing as of late," said Patrick Sharp. "Four lines, six-or-seven deep that are ready to step in and we've used both goaltenders up to this point so we feel good about our depth and where we're sitting in the series right now."
While not a common place for this team, it's not a bad place at the table whether wearing slippers or not.