Loss a wakeup call for Hawks

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:04 PM ET

VANCOUVER — It could just be a one-game road trip for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Not by the looks of their luggage.

If the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night and close out their best-of-seven series in six games, the plan is to go straight to San Jose for the Western Conference final.

“It’s the playoffs. You never know what’s going to happen,” Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg said. “So you pack as if you’re going to win. That’s what we expect to do. We expect to win. That’s that.”

You have to admit, the second-year NHLer doesn’t lack confidence. Then again, neither do any of the Blackhawks — and for good reason.

Sure, they lost Sunday night’s 4-1 game at home, but they still have a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“There’s no panic here. Nothing like that,” Versteeg said. “There’s sometimes a sense of urgency when need be. That’s what we have next game. We need to be urgent, we need to play harder than we did last game. I think the effort was there, we were just a step or two behind. Overall, next game we need to be better.”

Smarter may be the better word.

You can debate whether the Blackhawks figured it would be an easy game, but they were out of sync from falling behind early and struggled with the more defensive game the Canucks played in Game 5.

“They seemed to sit back a little more,” Hawks forward Andrew Ladd said. “At the same time, I thought we were trying to do, maybe, too much, trying to make plays when they weren’t there, when the better play was probably getting it at the net and just simplifying, it seemed to get us in trouble.

“We definitely didn’t want to go back (to Vancouver), but at the same time, we just didn’t play well enough. Hopefully, we’ll take that as wakeup call and come out better.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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