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Hawks Turn Physical Play Into Postseason Success

05/10/2009 9:57 PM

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VANCOUVER -- Take the body, take the series.

If the Chicago Blackhawks don't have an official motto, maybe this one would work.

Going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks were viewed by most as a dangerous team, but not a physical threat. They finished the regular season 22nd in hits with 1,520; that was 205 more than the Vancouver Canucks, but not enough to earn them any respect in the physical hockey department.

But in the Western Conference Semifinals, Chicago is throwing its weight around --  and it's a major reason the Hawks lead Vancouver 3-2 in the series after a 4-2 win at G.M. Place on Saturday night.

The Blackhawks are third overall in hits through 11 games with 326; Dustin Byfuglien is tops with 49 hits, including six in Game 5 win, while Brent Seabrook is not far behind at 37.

Seabrook was 11th in the league in hits during the regular season with 224 in 82 games, so he's accustomed to dishing it out as much as possible.

"That's a battle I always want to make sure I'm winning," said Seabrook, who landed one hit in Game 5. "That's an important part of my game, but I think sometimes being physical just comes with being in good position and that's what I'm trying to do."

  Blackhawks Gear Canucks GearThe Blackhawks are credited with 108 to the Canucks' 73 through five games, including a 32-31 margin on Saturday night. Chicago has outhit Vancouver in four of five games. So much for the Hawks being a finesse team.

The Blackhawks have overcome quite a bit to get make the playoffs this season, and coach Joel Quenneville said Chicago shedding its weakling label was one of them.

"I think that we met a lot of tests in certain situations this year in the regular season where teams felt that maybe they could physically, I don't want to say abuse us, but certainly take advantage of it and feel they have an edge in that regard," Quenneville said.

"I've always been comfortable that we have a number of guys that not only can receive, but are willing to dish."

Author: Derek Jory | Correspondent