CHICAGO – Whatever the reason for Chicago’s slow start in Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, the Blackhawks want to turn their energy level up early in Game 2 on Friday night against the Wild.
“They played a pretty good game,” Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane said after Thursday’s practice. “We want to rev up the pace a little bit and start playing a little bit faster, more like we did throughout the year.
“Maybe we were a little bit excited and nervous, but you almost got to play like it’s any other game, just play our pace and not worry about them so much.”
Bryan Bickell, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime on Tuesday night, seconded that.
“In the first 10 minutes we need to pick up the level of our game, just limit the mistakes at the blue line, and I think it’ll work out,” Bickell said.
Forward Brandon Saad and linemates Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa played well in Game 1, but Saad noted that Game 2 has to be different from the start.
“We’ve got to be quicker,” Saad said. “We know we’re a fast team, but we didn’t show it that much in Game 1. It’s something we talked about and we’ve got to come out flying on Friday.”
Chicago backup ready
Henrik Karlsson sat on the Blackhawks bench and watched Wild backup goaltender Josh Harding get an unexpected start in Game 1 when Niklas Backstrom suffered an injury in warm-ups. Karlsson, backing up netminder Corey Crawford until Ray Emery returns from injury, was impressed with Harding.
“He played good; he’s a good goalie,” Karlsson said. “I think he was a little bit tense in the beginning, but after a couple of saves he looked real comfortable and played really good. He did a good job, managed to relax and play his game.”
Karlsson came to Chicago after being acquired from the Calgary Flames on Jan. 21, and posted an 11-5-0 record and a 2.86 goals-against average in 18 games with the Blackhawks’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. He knows what it’s like to come off the bench and be put in the net unexpectedly.
“Obviously it’s a little bit tougher to get thrown in there in the second period or third period, but as far as the game, you have to be ready,” Karlsson said. “If it happens, I have to be ready and I will. I’ve been thrown in games in the regular season.”