Havlat 'Hawk-ing talent

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

The Blackhawks didn't have much time to celebrate.

Less than 24 hours after eliminating the Flames in six games in the first round of the NHL playoffs, the 'Hawks were on a plane to Vancouver to prepare for the opening of tonight's Western Conference semi-final against the Canucks at GM Place.

While coach Joel Quenneville didn't hold a practice when the 'Hawks arrived on the West Coast on Tuesday, they were back on the ice yesterday and they're not just satisfied with getting to Round 2.

"We've still got a long way to go. We were excited, but we weren't satisfied with just making the playoffs," said Chicago winger Martin Havlat, a former Senator. "We wanted to do more once we got here. We wanted to show people we belong here and we wanted to make sure we won Round 1.

"We've got a good team. We've played well in the playoffs and different guys have stepped up for us at different times. We had a great first round and we're happy that we won. We had to battle hard to get to the playoffs and we got rewarded at the end with all the hard work. Now, we have to take another step."

There is a lot of excitement surrounding the young 'Hawks, who are coming off their first playoff series win in 12 seasons.

While Havlat has been joined by youngsters Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in leading the Blackhawks, it's the play of goalie Nikolai Khabibulin that has everyone talking in the Windy City.

"He's one of the best goalies in the league. He was solid for us in the regular season and he's brought that game into the playoffs," said Havlat. "He's been great and that's one of the biggest reasons why we were able to win the first round.

"He gives us confidence. We know we've got a great goalie and he can help us win the game. That's really important to believe in him and that makes it much easier to play in front of him."

Havlat was pretty good himself in Round 1, recording three goals and three assists.

Havlat can beome an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and if he hits the open market, he'll be right up there with former Senators teammate and current Wings winger Marian Hossa as one of the most sought-after forwards.

Havlat hopes to stay with Chicago. Allan Walsh, Havlat's agent, has held talks with Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon about a long-term extension (in the 8-to-10-year range), but Havlat isn't focusing on the talks.

"I don't even ask where they are. This is what I'm thinking about and concerning myself with," said Havlat. "It's all about winning."


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