Seabrook: "We've got to be better"
|Bill Smith / Chicago Blackhawks|
CHICAGO -- Brent Seabrook didn't hide from the spotlight Tuesday afternoon at O'Hare International Airport, following the Chicago Blackhawks' return from an ugly trip to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Final.
A 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday dropped the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks into a 3-1 hole in the best-of-7 series. Seabrook, a defenseman who was on the ice for the Kings' two power-play goals in the first period, owned up to his share of responsibility.
After leading the NHL in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in penalty killing prior to this series, the Blackhawks have killed five of 10 Kings power plays heading into Game 5 on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"I think [Monday] night in the first period was non-characteristic by our team," Seabrook said, referring to the 3-0 deficit the Blackhawks faced after 20 minutes. "I've got to be better. I was out there for both of those [power-play] goals. I've got to be better in those situations to help out [goalie Corey Crawford], help out everybody on the ice and we have to get the job done. That's a big part of the series."
It's become a huge part of the series.
The Blackhawks have struggled to score on their power plays for most of the postseason, but their penalty killing was critical in defeating the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild in the first two rounds. Seabrook, who plays a significant role on special teams, knows the penalty-killing issues must be corrected.
"We haven't been scoring on the power play, so we want to keep the goals-against down," he said. "It seems like they're taking a pretty good pace right now on the power play, so we've got to find a way to be better on that."
Seabrook came into the conference final tied with right wing Marian Hossa for the Blackhawks lead in points (11) and was second to captain Jonathan Toews after one round, scoring six points (two goals, four assists) in three games against the Blues; he missed three games because of a suspension.
Against the Kings, who've erased a lot of time for the Blackhawks in the offensive zone, Seabrook doesn't have a point and has a minus-1 rating through four games. The shots from the point that led to goals in the first two rounds aren't there very often against Los Angeles.
He and other Chicago defenders have struggled with blown coverage assignments and sloppy play with the puck the past three games, which has to change if it has a chance to get off the mat.
"I've got to be better," Seabrook said a second time. "It doesn't just start with the penalty kill. It's in every facet of the game. I think we've all got to be out there doing things that are going to make us win a game. I think some things happened last game that are uncharacteristic [of us], but I'd say you've got to give L.A. credit. They're forcing us into different situations, but we've got to be better and we will be better."
Seabrook and forward Bryan Bickell were the players who met with reporters Tuesday at the airport, where they were asked about their seemingly relaxed approach to losing Game 4 on Monday. Seabrook disagreed with the notion the Blackhawks aren't taking this series seriously.
He and Bickell mentioned last season's playoffs, when the Blackhawks overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings in overtime of Game 7 at United Center.
"Well, I don't think we're trying to be so cool about it," Seabrook said. "We don't want to be down 3-1 in a series, ever, and we came back from it last year and it was great for our team once we started rolling. So we're going to be a desperate hockey team [Wednesday] night. We've got to come out, we've got to lay everything on the line or else our season's over. I think we understand that."