Updated: June 25, 2013 12:16AM
BOSTON—Michal Handzus is 36 years old. Patrick Kane is 24. But on Sunday night, Handzus was listening just as closely as 20-year-old Brandon Saad was as the Blackhawks veterans talked about what it’s like to play with the Stanley Cup in the building.
“They’ve been there before, I haven’t,” Handzus said. “So I’ll take any advice I can.”
By this point of the playoffs, everyone in the Hawks lineup has played in his share of big games. There was Game 7 against Detroit, Game 5 against Los Angeles, and the must-win Game 4 in TD Garden just last week. But there’s something different about playing when you know in the back of your mind that, in just a couple hours, you could be hoisting the Stanley Cup above your head in exultation.
“There’s going to be nerves, but we can’t focus on that, we’ve got to focus on the game,” Andrew Shaw. “We know [Boston is] a great team and they’re going to come out and play their best game of the postseason. Their backs are against the wall and that’s when teams are their most dangerous. We’ve got to focus on each shift and just keep moving forward.”
That was the lesson the members of the 2010 Hawks were trying to impart on the first-timers Sunday night at the team hotel. Keep calm and carry on like it was any other game, impossible as that sounds.
“Kaner said you’ve got your whole family here and a lot of things going on, you just want to put it away and try to focus just for the game,” Michael Frolik said. “In the game, you could be up, you could be down, just try to stick with it and just focus for the game.”
Shaw said he was going to turn off his phone the rest of the day to block out the noise. Handzus said he wasn’t going to think about how far he’s come in his 14-year career to finally reach this point. And Saad said he was just going to try to “enjoy the process,” “live in the moment,” and treat the eight hours between the morning skate and the drop of the puck like it was any other game.
“Just pretty routine,” Saad said. “Get back and get a meal in me and take a nap — or try to take a nap — and stay relaxed. It’s going to be an exciting one tonight.”