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Slay the dragon? Hawks just want to beat the Red Wings

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Wings win!.jpgIt's a nice storyline, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville isn't buying into the romantic notion that their Western Conference semifinal playoff series is an opportunity to exorcise a demon or slay the dragon by finally beating the Red Wings in a postseason series.

''No,'' Quenneville said when asked if the Red Wings were a hurdle his team needed to clear. ''Winning the Cup, you have to take on the best comers. I think we had a good chance [against the Red Wings] five years ago -- it's amazing how long ago that was.

''We haven't faced them since then. I don't know if that series was as dominating as 4-1 against us. But I thought it was a good learning curve for us. A young team learning from one of the teams that knows how to win -- defending Cup champs. I think there's an education there from them. But now it's a whole new challenge. Their playoff tested. They know how to play. they know how to compete. They know what's ahead of them.

''But I think we've learned as well. I think we applied it the following year [in winning the Cup in 2010]. So you can't pick and choose who you're going to play in the course of a playoff year. We had some great challenges that year. It was a good test the last three years. I'm not particularly [saying] it's one team against another. We have to make sure whatever hurdle or challenge we have, it's how we prepare ourselves and be respectful for what they can do. Let's take care of our own business.''

That said, this year's Stanley Cup playoffs is evolving into a Tournament of Champions of sorts. The Hawks might have to beat the 2008 champion Red Wings in this round, the defending champion Los Angeles Kings in the conference finals and either the 2011 champion Boston Bruins or 2009 champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Finals to earn their second Stanley Cup in the past four seasons.

The Hawks rightfully earned the last one. They might have to negotiate an even more difficult route this time to win it all again.

For some, the Red Wings are a convenient next step on that road.

''Yeah, that would be nice, for sure,'' Patrick Kane said. ''I know we've had some success against them in the regular season in years past, but they have our number I guess in the playoffs - the one year we played them [2009], they beat us in five games. It'd be nice to get a little redemption there and prove that we can beat them in a seven-game series.''

Patrick Sharp, who also played in that 2009 series, understands the significance for Hawks fans.

''There's a number of good teams in the West. The Wings are one of them and they have been for a long time,'' Sharp said. ''I'd like to think that we feel we want to beat anyone we play in the playoffs. The fact that we're matched up against the Wings and the fans are into it, that just brings a little more excitement to the games.''

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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 Potash published on May 15, 2013 9:21 AM.

History on Blackhawks' side vs. rival Red Wings was the previous entry in this blog.

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