Hawks arrive late back in Chicago
CHICAGO -- Apparently, overtime isn't limited to just the ice for the Chicago Blackhawks in this Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes.
After winning the series' fifth straight OT game 2-1 on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena, the Blackhawks needed extra time to get home for Monday's Game 6 at United Center. The Hawks were supposed to arrive at O'Hare Airport mid-afternoon on Sunday and meet with the local media upon arrival.
Instead, thanks to some issues with the plane, the Hawks' charter jet didn't touch down in the Windy City until roughly five hours after originally scheduled.
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"There's not much you can do about it, but at this point we're not going to complain about that stuff," said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who ended Saturday night's game in OT with his second goal of the series. "It's not the end of the world. We're happy to be home. We'll be in our own beds tonight and in our building in front of our own fans [Monday] evening, so that's the most important thing."
Rather than letting it get to them, Brent Seabrook said the Hawks used the long delay to bond even more as a team -- eating lunch and watching other series on television.
"I don't know what happened," Seabrook said of the delay. "The guys were all upbeat. We were all hanging out downstairs having lunch together and stuff, so it's not a bad thing. It's good to be around the guys at this time of year and do a little bit of team-building, which is good."
As it turned out, the Coyotes' plane actually got them to Chicago a lot sooner than the Blackhawks -- who trail 3-2 in the series and must win on Monday to force a Game 7 back in the desert. The long travel day, however, didn't hinder Toews' attempts to thrust all the pressure in the series squarely on the Coyotes.
"I think you can kind of imagine the feeling they have right now," he said. "They didn't want to come back to Chicago. They wanted to end the series right there, and every time we can keep pushing this series to another game, I'm sure they're getting that feeling that it's theirs to lose. So, we're trying to put a lot of pressure on them and just go out there and play hard."
Toews wasn't far off with his assessment, either. Despite the Coyotes winning both games between the teams that were held in United Center this season, they aren't thrilled with being back in Chicago for Game 6.
"We've had success here," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said on a teleconference Sunday evening. "Obviously we didn't want to come back ... [but] we're comfortable in playing here."
Chicago will get rookie Andrew Shaw back after a three-game suspension stemming from a play in Game 2, in which he ran into Phoenix goalie Mike Smith behind the net. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville suddenly has some interesting decisions to make with his lineup, but putting Shaw's name isn't a difficult choice.
Quenneville said Shaw will play and the player he replaces will be determined on Monday.
Veteran forwards Michael Frolik and Brendan Morrison have each played well in the absence of Shaw and injured star Marian Hossa -- who was injured by a Raffe Torres hit in Game 3 and is possibly out for the series -- if not longer with an upper-body injury.
Rookies Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Saad have also impressed Quenneville in the series -- which has seen each of the first five games go to overtime for the deciding goal. Dating back to last season's first-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, Chicago has now played seven straight overtime playoff games.
Are they to the point yet where they just assume every game will go past the 60-minute mark?
"Probably," Toews said, smiling. "We're not counting on that. We don't want to wait that long to go out there and make something happen. If we can win the game in the first 60 minutes, that'd be great, but we'll take it any way we can I guess."