Wrapping up Round 1 by winning game 6 in Milwaukee was a relief, especially since we felt we should have been able to close out the series earlier.
Milwaukee is a good team, they played tough defense, and their goaltender really played great.
We had lost Game 1 in overtime, giving up a lead late in the game. One of the things we talked about throughout the series was learning from game to game. In playoffs it is important to take what you learn in the first couple of games and apply them, hopefully carrying them on to other rounds. I think our team defense really improved as the series went on, understanding what kind of effort it was going to take to win each game.
Rockford is going to be a very tough opponent, and hopefully we have realized the effort it is going to take from each guy on the bench to win.
What I always love about playoffs is how different guys end up being the hero every night. It is not always your leading scorers or the power plays. Game 6 against Milwaukee is a great example. I don't want to take anything away from our forwards, because they played great, especially defensively. Not only were all three goals scored by d-men, Arturs Kulda and Boris Valabik (2), but the fact that it was Kulda's first professional goal after only being on the team a couple of weeks, and that defensive specialist Valabik scored two goals after only scoring one during the year, shows how guys step up and become the unsuspected hero. And it isn't just on our team, it is like that all over the league. One night our goalie Pavelec will win the game for us when we might be outplayed, one night the power play will score 3 goals, and on another night our penalty kill will score a shorthanded goal like Doell's in game 3 to tie up the game, sending it to overtime, setting up Haydar's OT game winner. That is what I love about playoffs, it is not always who you think it is going to be.
After coming back to Chicago and having Sunday off, resting from the hectic schedule of games, practices, and travel between home and Milwaukee, today was a day to get start to get back in game shape. Some of the guys skated, a large portion of the guys just working out, riding the bike, rehabbing injuries, and rest up from last week. Tonight our team is heading out for a team dinner to kick off Round 2 against Rockford. Tomorrow at the rink, it starts all over again, practice, video, and scouting reports all over again, this time all geared toward Rockford. All the guys talked about the game we have had against Rockford this year, and I don't think anyone believes this is going to be an easy series. The important thing right now is to rest and start to focus on game 1 Thursday night against the Ice Hogs.