Getting back to normal for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals
It’s springtime in the Midwest, which means that warm, humid weather and thunderstorms are the order of the day. That, in turn, means it will be a challenge to maintain good ice for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday night at the United Center. Players were unhappy about the mushy ice in Game 1, but soft ice is an unavoidable consequence of playing deep into May and June.
Members of the Blackhawks said after Monday's game-day skate that they expect Monday night’s game to be less sloppy than the chaos that preceded their 6-5 victory over the Flyers in the opener. Their opening-night jitters have faded, Chicago winger Kris Versteeg said, making it easier to simply get back to hockey.
“I think you can go into it and play a little calmer,” Versteeg said.
Winger Adam Burish said the opener didn’t feel normal until the third period, when the Blackhawks were better able to organize their defense and stop the Flyers’ offense. He sensed less nervousness among his teammates than they felt Saturday, when the magnitude of the game and the roaring crowd at the United Center preyed on their nerves and distracted them from their game plan.
“I’m seeing guys and they’re saying, ‘I slept so much better last night. I feel so much looser,’ ” he said.
Patrick Kane, blanked Saturday along with linemates Jonathan Toews and Dustin Byfuglien, acknowledged he was “maybe a little bit overexcited for the situation.” He added, “Sometimes you go out there, you try to do too much, and it all backfires on you. I know I even said before the game that you can't do that, but it's one of those things you have to calm down and try to play our regular game.”
Their regular game should include a power play, though they didn’t get any in Game 1. “We expect to be on the power play at some point in the series and hopefully, it’s tonight,” Coach Joel Quenneville said.
Quenneville said winger Andrew Ladd, who missed Game 1 because of an upper-body injury, won’t play Monday night. Tomas Kopecky, who scored the winner on Saturday, stays in.
For the Flyers, feisty winger Daniel Carcillo apparently will play after being scratched in the opener, with James van Riemsdyk the likely candidate to sit. Coach Peter Laviolette wouldn’t say anything either way but did praise the energy that Carcillo usually brings. He led the Flyers this season with 207 penalty minute -- fourth in the NHL -- and leads them in playoff penalty minutes with 30 in 15 games.
“Danny Carcillo has done an excellent job with his discipline when he's been in the lineup, so he plays an aggressive game. He can agitate a little bit. He's physical,” Laviolette said. “And I think he's done an excellent job of controlling his game and keeping it legal.”
And keeping his teammates happy. “The first game was not very physical on both sides, but we expect that to change on both teams,” Flyers winger Simon Gagne said. Having Danny on our side definitely is going to help.”
More later at www.latimes.com/sports.
-- Helene Elliott in Chicago