There's resilient ... but against Detroit?
CHICAGO -- All season long during our periodical conversations with Dale Tallon, the Blackhawks GM would almost always come back to one point. He was amazed just how resilient his young club was.
Now comes the ultimate test. There's resilient, and then there's down 2-0 to the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
"Our kids are going to keep playing hard," Tallon told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "You still have to win four games. We're in tough, we know that, but I thought we played real well last night and could have won that hockey game. If we keep getting better, we'll have a shot.
"Sure, they're upset about the result," Tallon said. "But they've battled back all year long and they'll continue to do it."
There was no practice at the United Center on Wednesday, and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told his squad to stay home and recharge.
This is where having a veteran such as Quenneville gives the Hawks their best possible shot at hanging on in this series. He's been in these situations, as an NHL player and as an NHL coach. For the next 48 hours leading up to Friday night's Game 3, Quenneville will be just as much psychologist and father figure as coach.
This is a young team on the ropes, and Quenneville needs to cradle that fragile confidence built with two deserving playoff series wins over Calgary and Vancouver.
"We'll see how we are," Quenneville said at his daily media briefing Wednesday. "I think when we get into tomorrow, we'll have some meetings, go over what we need to do, kind of look back on yesterday's game. I think we got a pretty good pulse of our team. The beat of our team's been pretty consistent throughout the playoffs. We've had some highs and some lows.
"I think we can build on the positives of how we played yesterday, knowing that we did improve, and we're looking for that type of game from ourselves. I think if we can look to just improve off of those levels, knowing we're at home, taking advantage of the enthusiasm in the building, you know, we can get ourselves back into it.
"I think each and every guy still should feel pretty good about where we're at. We know we're playing the best. We got to be better, that's all. And I think our enthusiasm will be in the right places as we come together tomorrow."
If there's a rink in the NHL that can help motivate a young team whose spirit might have been broken, it's the 2009 version of the United Center. After standing for the national anthem last week before Game 6 against Vancouver and seeing my computer vibrate on press row as the crowd deliriously rocked the joint, I bet the young Hawks will come out flying Friday night.
"It will be fun to be back here," Quenneville said. "I think the last home game was pretty remarkable against Vancouver. We did some good things in our first two games in the series. The excitement in our building even gets greater and greater as we've gone along here. So we expect the enthusiasm to be at an amazing pitch. So we want to make sure that we use that in the right way."
"The place will be rocking," Tallon said.
The Hawks made two players available to the media Wednesday even though there wasn't a practice. And it was interesting to see which players they selected: Samuel Pahlsson and Andrew Ladd. Along with Nikolai Khabibulin, they represent the Hawks' only players with Cup rings.
Ladd pointed out that when his Carolina squad was en route to a Cup championship in 2006, the Hurricanes began the playoffs down 2-0.
"I just think you don't want to panic," Ladd said. "You know, I think every team that goes through runs, they have a little adversity they have to face. I know in Carolina, our first round against Montreal the year we won, we lost our first two games at home and ended up winning that series in six."
Is it mean to point out that the 2006 Canadiens have not often been compared to the 2009 Red Wings?
The Wings can be beaten. But beaten in four out of five games? Yikes.
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.