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Blackhawks, Red Wings seek another gear

Hawks winger Patrick Kane braces himself for hit from Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall second period 4-1 wfor Chicago Blackhawks over

Hawks winger Patrick Kane braces himself for a hit from Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall in the second period of a 4-1 win for the Chicago Blackhawks over the Detroit Red Wings in game one of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Wednesday May 15, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 19, 2013 6:17AM



The Blackhawks are ready for the Red Wings’ best shot.

‘‘We expect a harder game,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘I’m sure it’s going to be more physical than the first game as you progress, and we found in the Minnesota series it was like that.’’

It’ll be interesting to see if the Hawks have learned from experience. They braced for a ‘‘push-back’’ from the Wild in Game 3 on the road but didn’t respond well in a 3-2 overtime loss. The lesson: You can’t brace for the push-back, you have to attack it.

‘‘Don’t wait for it to happen,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘Expect it to happen and be more proactive than reactionary. Let’s have that mentality going into the game.’’

The Red Wings have their own challenge in Game 2 on Saturday at the United Center. Coach Mike Babcock acknowledged his team was a step slow and outplayed in the final two periods of a 4-1 loss in Game 1, a residual affect of traveling back and forth between Anaheim, Calif., and Detroit in the first round of the playoffs. With two days between games, the Wings expect to be faster in Game 2.

‘‘We have no reason not to be very good in the next game,’’ ­Babcock said.

The Hawks could have something to say about that. Even with six days off after eliminating the Wild, they needed one period to take control and beat the Red Wings at their own game — puck possession.

‘‘That’s why they were skating better,’’ said Wings forward Damien Brunner. ‘‘We have to do a better job. We have enough good skaters on this team to beat them to the puck, and we have to be better at protecting the puck to make some plays and get some [offensive] zone time.’’

The danger for the Red Wings is that while they present more problems for the Hawks than the Wild did, they might bring out the best in the Hawks more than the Wild did.

‘‘We have another level [too],’’ Hawks forward Daniel Carcillo said. ‘‘We know they’re a great team and they’re going to play fast. They have a lot of skill. We just need to step up our game. Even though [Game 1] was one of our better playoff games, we still haven’t reached our best. Everyone in here knows it.’’



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