Blackhawks need to counter Canucks' muscle

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:29 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- It's one thing to get beaten, it's quite another to get beaten up.

And for most of their Game 1 loss to Vancouver, the Chicago Blackhawks looked like the poor guy on the receiving end of Al Capone's team-building exercise in The Untouchables.

Crash test dummies at the Yugo factory don't get knocked around as badly as the defending champions did in Wednesday's 2-0 defeat.

"We need to be intense and be harder to play against, we made it too easy for them," said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. "We just need to compete at the level that was necessary across the board."

The hit totals were 20-9 in the first period and 47-21 overall as Vancouver charged out of the gate like stampeding buffalo. Chicago had no answer, just a lot of hoof prints on their logo.

"We're going to try to hit those guys any chance we get," said winger Tanner Glass, when asked what we should expect in Game 2.

"This is playoff hockey," added Maxim Lapierre. "In the playoffs, it's the team that wants it the most."

After what we saw in Game 1, that would be Vancouver.

The Canucks have tremendous skill at their disposal, but the plan going in was to rock Chicago's world.

"Chicago came in here having played five games in eight nights, five stressful and intense games," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "Sunday, they thought they were out of the playoffs, it was an emotional day for them. They flew here on Monday, we felt it was very important for us to come out with a good start."

It worked.

And that's the troublesome part if you're the Blackhawks. The Sedins don't have a point and Ryan Kesler doesn't have a goal, and Vancouver is still leading the series.

They didn't win with skill, but rather with will. Vancouver wanted it more, and now the focus has shifted from the Canucks trying to explain last year to the Hawks having to explain last game.

"It's definitely something we need to respond to, we can't just lay around and take that," said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. "If we can put pucks behind them and get after it we can make them a little more afraid to go near the puck, especially in their zone. We didn't play hard enough in their corners or in front of their net."

They have no choice but to fight muscle with muscle.

"They're going to come out hard in Game 2 again, they're going to try and do the same things they established in Game 1," said Chicago's Chris Campoli. "We're going to have to respond, or take it to them."

Taking it to them sounds good by Patrick Kane. He's not the biggest guy, but finishing hits on the forecheck is straight out of Playoffs 101.

"We have to play physical on their defence, try to wear them down a little bit," said Kane. "I know they have some guys back there who've been injured for a while and only played a couple of games since, try to get in on them, hit them, and maybe it can make a difference."

Go for it, said Canucks blueliner Kevin Bieksa.

"We've got eight D to wear down," he said. "That's a lot of D, so take your pick."

The Hawks are notoriously slow starters, having fallen behind 1-0 in four of their last five playoff series. They tend to respond pretty well, though, and have the rings to prove it.

"When we get challenged ... I think we're better with anger in our game," said Quenneville. "If we're not happy with a performance or a period we can generally respond in a way that changes the outcome.

"We need Friday's game in a big way. We need to play with urgency."


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