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with Mark Lazerus

Quenneville wants more intensity, desperation out of Blackhawks

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You've seen Joel Quenneville angry. You've seen him on the bench ranting at the refs after a call doesn't go the Blackhawks' way, or roaring at his players after a particularly lackluster effort. You've seen the arms flailing, the eyes flashing, the voice straining.

The Hawks have seen it, too. Plenty of times. That's what coaches do -- they yell, they scream, they convey their message as forcefully as they can.

But Quenneville didn't scream after the Hawks' lost Game 3 on Sunday to a Minnesota Wild team that showed superior effort, hustle and desperation from start to finish. And he didn't yell throughout Monday's practice, either. Instead, he calmly pointed out areas that needed improvement -- dispassionate play and sloppy play go hand in hand -- and sent his players out to work on those things.

That's how the Hawks knew he was really serious.

"He stated some points that we need to work on to get this team better if we want to move on, and we listened," Bryan Bickell said. "When he screams and yells, sometimes it's the same stuff. But when he starts talking like a normal human being, everybody gets their ears open and listens. He's our leader, and he keeps us together to make us the best."

So while Game 3 understandably sent the Twin Cities into a tizzy -- think Bulls fans after Game 1 against the Miami Heat -- the loss hardly sent waves of panic through the Hawks dressing room. If anything, it served as a wake-up call after a relatively pressure-free home stretch of the season, and an opportunity to learn lessons that could prove helpful down the road should the Hawks stave off the Wild and make a deep playoff run.

So the 51 hours between Jason Zucker's overtime goal in Game 3 and the drop of the puck for Tuesday night's Game 4 were, for the Hawks and for Quenneville, a time to reflect, reassess, and respond.

"We never talk about the games right after, we let it sink in for a day," Viktor Stalberg said. "[Quenneville] wasn't really happy [during Monday's practice]. I don't think we played very well. We didn't compete at the same level. They deserved to win that game and we got lucky to stay in it as far as we did. We've got to be better, we've got to be better in front of [Corey Crawford[, we've got to play harder and we've got to start getting into this series like it's the playoffs. I don't think we've been playing that desperate. Maybe the second game went a little too easy for us. I don't think we expected it to be easy, but for some reason we came out a little flat in the third game here. We've got to get better. And that's what Joel told us."

Said Quenneville: "Sometimes there's more technical things you want to change and adjust to, and sometimes you want to make sure the motivation factor [and] the compete level is in order."

Sure enough, Monday's practice had more life to it, more intensity, than perhaps any Hawks practice since the start of the season. And the Hawks expect

There won't be anything drastic. No big line shakeup -- Quenneville fired up the line blender for the third period of Game 3, but will stick with his usual combinations for overtime and Game 4 -- other than probably swapping in Daniel Carcillo for Brandon Bollig. No fundamental shifts in philosophy -- more hitting, sure, but not at the expense of the Hawks' puck-possession, fast-paced style.

It was only one loss, after all. Nobody expected the Hawks to go 16-0 and cakewalk their way to the Stanley Cup.

But Quenneville made his point. The effort in Game 3 wasn't good enough. And it won't be tolerated again.

"Just to bring that playoff style of hockey," Jonathan Toews said of the new mission. "You watch the other series and you see how tough it is on every single play, every single shift, and little puck battles everywhere. Nothing is taken for granted. So we've got to have that some work ethic, that same hatred for that team that they had for us last game."

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About the blogger

Mark Lazerus was honored nationally by the Associated Press Sports Editors for three straight years at the Post-Tribune, was named one of the top three columnists in Indiana for three straight years and has won more than 20 statewide writing awards. He has covered Notre Dame for Sun-Times Media, and now covers the Blackhawks.



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This page contains a single entry by Mark Lazerus published on May 7, 2013 3:52 PM.

Duncan Keith will play in Game 4 after birth of son was the previous entry in this blog.

Daniel Carcillo ready to go -- if Blackhawks call on him is the next entry in this blog.

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