Updated: June 7, 2014 6:23AM
The Blackhawks have been the best road team in the Stanley Cup playoffs
under coach Joel Quenne-
ville, with one hitch: It seems to take them a little while to adjust to the challenge of playing in enemy territory.
The Hawks are 17-14 on the road in the playoffs since 2010, but they are only 2-9 in their first road game of a
series, including eight consecutive losses. The last time the Hawks won their first road game in a series was against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference finals in 2010.
Therein lies the challenge for the Hawks going into Game 3 of their second-round series against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at Xcel
Energy Center. The Hawks lead the series 2-0. In the first round against the Wild last season, the Hawks lost 2-1 in overtime in Game 3 at Xcel Energy Center before winning 3-0 in Game 4 and taking the series in five games.
‘‘Aware of it,’’ Quenne-
ville said when asked about the Hawks’ string of losses in the first road game of a series. ‘‘We’ve been pretty good on the road, but the first game in the other team’s building hasn’t been very successful for us. We’ve had some good games, close games, overtime games, different kind of games.’’
Actually, the Hawks seem to be on the verge of breaking that streak. While they appeared overwhelmed — or at least out of their element — in road losses to the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins last season en route to the Stanley Cup, they outplayed the St. Louis Blues in a 4-3 loss in triple overtime in their first road game in the first round this season.
In fact, in three playoff road games against the Blues, the Hawks lost in triple overtime, lost in overtime and won Game 6 in overtime. They were 1 minute, 45 seconds from winning Game 1 and 6.4 seconds from winning Game 2.
The Hawks seem to be getting the hang of it. They have 18 players who played in their Cup run last season, and the chemistry is more evident with each game. When they were defending the Cup in 2011, the Hawks had 11 holdovers from the 2010 championship team.
‘‘It’s always a tough game [in Minnesota],’’ center
Michal Handzus said. ‘‘They are going to be fired up. It’s the first [home] game for them in the series. You kind of have to weather the storm, and you have to push back right away. That was something we probably didn’t do as much over the last year and this year.’’
For the Hawks, especially in a series in which they have the Wild outmanned, it’s a matter of knowing what they’re up against.
‘‘We need to do a good job of preparing and knowing that it’s going to be tougher,’’ defenseman Duncan Keith said. ‘‘They’re going to be skating harder, and I think [it’s a matter of] being able to understand that and come out with our best effort of the series.’’