1) It’s just another game... No it isn’t. This is for the right to parade Lord Stanley’s Cup around the United Center ice in front of 22,000 plus screaming fans. But the players have to treat it like it’s just another important playoff game. Keep up the same routine, the same sleep patterns, the same habits that you would have on any other game day. It certainly isn’t a given that the Blackhawks will be celebrating their third Stanley Cup in the last six years later tonight, so heed the advice head coach Joel Quenneville offers at times like these and “be excited about the opportunity that is laying right in front of you”. Listen to what he says - he’s 15-4 in series-clinching games.
2) Redemption, the sweetest drink. A lot of players making the most of these Stanley Cup Final games were healthy scratches during long stretches of this post season. Kris Versteeg has only played in half of the 22 playoff games, but he’s been a huge factor in Games 1 and 5 of this series. Antoine Vermette, who didn’t play the first two games of these playoffs, and missed another in the Western Conference Final, has scored two of the three game-winning goals in this series and has been a beast in the face-off circle. And let’s not forget about Corey Crawford, the goalie who was the designated backup for four straight games early in the postseason, only to have Coach Q state that more than a few of his teams victories have been “goalie” wins. Who knows who the next unsung hero may be.
[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
3) Use the crowd. Right now the Hawks have home ice advantage. Make sure you are using your crowd and all that energy to come out with a barrage of shots and bodies. You can’t win a game in the first period, but you can certainly set the tone. The 22,000 faithful at the United Center are the best in the league. I’ve seen this crowd pick up a player (Crawford after being reinserted in Game 6 against Nashville) with their supportive cheers when he came off the bench. They know the game and how this team feeds off of their support. Have a great start, get the crowd into it, and ride that wave of emotion and energy. By the way, both teams are 11-1 when they score first.