Chicago Sun-Times

Hawks try to stay focused

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PHILADELPHIA -- Most of the Hawks took part in the pre-game skate. Most of the Philadelphia Flyers did not.

During it, the Hawks tried to remain loose -- and young. They shared laughs during drills and joked around with some spectators in the stands.

But as much as they would love to approach Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday as just another game, they all know it isn't. The Stanley Cup is on the line.

"I think if you watched us today at the skate we tried to do that," winger Patrick Kane said. "But it's a little bit different especially when the Cup is on the line. It's tough to be loose today obviously for sure. But it's something you want to shoot for. ...

"You really can't treat it like any other game. It's totally different. But we know what's at stake and you know you don't want to have the opportunity of going back home tied 3-3. Something could go wrong, especially at home. We want to make sure we're taking advantage of the first opportunity we have here."

Center Patrick Sharp described the Hawks' situation before Game 6 as a battle basically before a battle. But relying on past experiences can help.

"It's a little different," Sharp said. "But it's nothing new to us really. I know I've been dealing with the whole playoff run. Games get bigger and bigger as you move along. You got to teach yourself to focus on what's important. This is as big as they come, but it's nothing new to our approach of the game."

Sharp did admit the Stanley Cup has come up in some conversations. Plus, it's hard not think about the Cup, which will be in the Wachovia Center Wednesday, when the media is in your face asking you about it.

"It's come up a few times in different conversations," he said. "But everyone has done a good job of catching themselves and staying focused. That's just comes with the territory of that battle of what might happen if we win, what might happen if we lose. It's tough to stay focused but that's what we're trying to do."

The Hawks didn't change much of their routine. That's why they all skated (except for Andrew Ladd), the held their video game tournament (which Niklas Hjalmarsson won) and so on.

"For us it's a hockey game," defenseman Brian Campbell said. "That's what it comes down to. We have to win a lot of battles and be at our best [Wednesday]."

Staying focused, though, is easier said than done.

"It's a different feel [in the locker room]," Kane said. "It's definitely the most important game of the year for sure. Everyone is - I wouldn't say nervous - but anxious and to excited to get this thing underway."

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Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times for more than four years, covering the Hawks, Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.

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