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Hawks eager to clinch, but must contend with off days

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CHICAGO -- It's likely going to be a nail-biting 48 hours for the Chicago Blackhawks.

After disposing of the Philadelphia Flyers with a 7-4 victory in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday night, the Blackhawks are now forced to wait two full days before the teams meet again at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

That's when they'll have a chance to hoist Lord Stanley for the first time in 49 years. While it may be frustrating that all the Blackhawks can do is wait, coach Joel Quenneville is confident his club will be ready to go.

"I'm sure some guys would rather play today," Quenneville said on Monday morning at the United Center. "I think the extra rest can get us focused. It's a big game … the biggest game of our lives. We have to channel it properly and control what we can control, and that's our next shift."

The Blackhawks have been in a similar situation before. They had five days off in between their second-round series victory against the Vancouver Canucks and Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals versus the San Jose Sharks. They took advantage of the down time but Quenneville is going with a business-like attitude for what he hopes to be series-clinching victory against Philadelphia.

"We already took them to Alcatraz and could have locked them up there for a couple of days," Quenneville joked. "It was a fun trip when we were out there in San Jose for a couple of extra days. We kind of got away from the rink. We've been so busy. I think it's a day where I think we're just going to stay away from each other and get some rest. We'll practice tomorrow, fly to Philly and do our routine that we've done on the road.

"They've got a lot of bonding going on at the hotel, whether they're playing video games. They do spend a lot of time on the road. We've had an extensive amount of days together away from Chicago."

They also had an extensive amount of scoring chances on Sunday, when they responded from back-to-back losses by scoring three times in the first period.
Dustin Byfuglien was the catalyst with a 4-point (2 goals, 2 assists) night, while Kris Versteeg had a goal and 2 assists. Chicago also went 2-for-4 on the power play after entering with just one tally in its first nine opportunities.

"We liked the response of our biggest game (Sunday) night," Quenneville said. "The challenge of losing two games in a row, how we were going to respond? I commended the guys on how business-like and their concentration, their focus was exactly how you would expect it or want it. I don't think we want to change off of those levels going on the road. We don't want to change our approach.

"We want to come out the way we did (Sunday) night," the coach added. "We've had some real good road games in the playoffs. Those one-goal games in Philly, we lose in overtime, was not good enough. But we've had some great games, some of our best games, in these playoffs in Vancouver, San Jose and Nashville."

They've also had some pulsating games in this Stanley Cup Final. After a wild 6-5 decision in the series opener, the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead in the series with a 2-1 win in Game 2 that featured the Flyers buzzing for much of the third period. Game 3 was decided in overtime on a goal by Claude Giroux after the Flyers rallied to tie the contest in the third period only 20 seconds after
Patrick Kane gave Chicago the lead.

Philadelphia controlled the tempo for the majority of Game 4, but the Blackhawks nearly rallied to erase a 4-1 deficit in the third period only to suffer a 5-3 loss. On Sunday, James van Riemsdyk scored 6:36 into the third to cut Chicago's lead to 5-3 before the Blackhawks pulled away.

Clearly, no lead is very safe. That's why it will require a 60-minute effort if the people of Chicago are going to party like it's 1961 on Wednesday.

"They had a three-goal lead late in Game 4, and all of a sudden you get it to two and a chance to get it to one," Quenneville said. "I think both teams are very respectful for the opposition on offense and the threats they pose. We want to make sure we try and slow it down. But that's easier said than being done right now."

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