2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Blackhawks not worried about Wachovia atmosphere
One of the more interesting questions asked of the Blackhawks today before tonight’s game concerned their preparation and readiness for the raucous and sometimes violent Flyers crowd that will be out in full force. It was a great question, and certainly topical considering the game tonight is in Philadelphia, but one I just don’t think applies to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Would it apply to the Dallas Stars or the Tampa Bay Lightning? Certainly, but if there is one team in the NHL that should be prepared for the noise that will be prevalent in tonight’s game it’s the Chicago Blackhawks.
Forget the fact that until three years ago, United Center could have been considered an abandoned building. Now that the Hawks are great again -- and the ownership is actually embracing it’s fans instead of ignoring them -- the Blackhawks have built one of the loudest and most passionate fanbases in the NHL. One could argue that the Blackhawks fans are on the exact same level as the crowds in Montreal, San Jose, Washington and yes -- Philadelphia.
Patrick Sharp, who has spent time here in Philadelphia, is looking forward to seeing how the home crowd will act now that the Flyers are in the Cup finals. He certainly agrees that the fans here in Philly are more passionate than most.
“I’m not sure how they’re going to treat us,” said Sharp. “In the Playoff atmosphere I know I was on the Flyers side before. It’s a great atmosphere. Every building has great fans when the puck goes in the net or something happens out on the ice. These Philly fans, they watch every play. They can get on top of the opposing teams players as well.
“I think it’s going to be a fun atmosphere. We’re all looking forward to it, and we want to play our best.”
One reason that the Hawks aren’t all that worried about the atmosphere here, and they acted a bit nonchalant about the whole thing honestly, is that the team has been so good on the road.
If the Blackhawks win tonight, they’ll break the NHL for consecutive road wins in the playoffs. After losing on the road in Nashville in round one, the Hawks have rattled off seven straight victories on the road.
That includes five straight between Vancouver and San Jose, two of the rowdiest crowds around. I’d say they know exactly what it takes to not only win on the road but win in the most hostile environments in the league. Perhaps that’s because they’re so used to the atmosphere at home, but Jonathan Toews attributes their road success to how close the team is on the road.
“When you’re on the road, you spend more time as a team. We’re together. For us that’s where we want to be. That’s where we’re in our comfort zone.”
There’s stories circulating as well that one reason for how close the team is on the road are the nightly Super Mario Kart tournaments. While I don’t know about the particular team-building methods that Mario Kart possesses, there’s no doubt that this is a very close-knit team. Patrick Sharp agrees.
“I think we get along so well off the ice as a team. We enjoy each other’s company. We like being out on the road together. It’s nice to have a road-winning streak, but it doesn’t mean much at end of the day. We have to hopefully win two more on the road.”