CALGARY – Call it a lesson on the importance of keeping your composure in the playoffs.
Jonathan Toews is one of 11 Blackhawk skaters who only a week ago hadn’t played an NHL playoff games. The Blackhawks captain says his young team has already learned a lot in the first four games of their Western Conference quarter-final series with Calgary. The Flames won 6-4 on Wednesday to knot the series at two, with Game 5 set for Saturday night in Chicago.
“The biggest learning is that you have a veteran team over there that gets down two games and they’re not getting impatient and they’re not panicking so we have to do the same,” said Toews, who is one week shy of his 21st birthday.
“We lost the last two so we have to remain positive about our situation and know that there’s still a lot of upside to it, and there’s still a lot of work to do and a long ways to go.” Calgary entered the playoffs with the two most notable playoff newbies in Olli Jokinen (799 regular season games) and Mike Cammalleri (364).
But it’s the Blackhawks, who have more playoff rookies.
“Obviously guys are laying their body on the line every single shift and that’s the difference,” said Toews.
In terms of regular season games played, Brent Seabrook along with defence partner Duncan Keith are the most experienced of the inexperienced group.
Seabrook says his first four playoff games have been unlike anything he’s experienced in 314 regular-season contests that preceded them.
“Every part of the game is magnified so much more – the physical part, the speed, how quick you have to make plays. You can’t compare it to anything else,” said Seabrook.
“It’s the Stanley Cup playoffs and everybody is fighting so hard for that common goal and it’s a constant battle out there.”
Hawks forwards Dave Bolland and Martin Havlat, a playoff veteran from his time with the Ottawa Senators, were each a game-low minus-four Wednesday night.
“We made some mistakes on the back end, forwards weren’t getting back. We’re making some minor mistakes that we have to learn from,” said Bolland. “It was a bad loss, but we have to deal with it, put it behind us and just keep on going. We still have our confidence, nothing’s gone down here”.
It has also been Bolland’s first taste of Stanley Cup playoff action. His impression his first week in the second season is to keep fighting.
“We can’t give up. We can’t give up on anything,” said Bolland. “We have to keep on hammering on them, keep on going, we can’t take it easy out there sometimes, you have to play hard every shift and always want it.”