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Blackhawks face tough challenge in first-round opener against the Blues
Winning on the road generally is not a problem for the talented and veteran Blackhawks. They are 16-12 on the road in the last four postseasons — only the Boston Bruins (16-15) have won as many road games in that span.
But that first game almost always is a problem — which presents perhaps the biggest hurdle in facing the St. Louis Blues in the opener of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. The Blackhawks have lost the first road game of seven consecutive series.
‘‘Maybe in the past we’ve been feeling out the other team a little bit too much instead of just going out and playing the game, playing our style of game to try to take it to them,’’ forward Patrick Kane said. ‘‘I think that’s something we can learn from, especially with the amount of experience in this locker room.’’
The Blackhawks do learn well. After losing the first road game of a series over the previous four off seasons, they are 11-4 on the road in following games. That’s why the Hawks figure they’ll eventually be able to win on the road against the Blues if they don’t win Game 1.
‘‘It’s a mix of a lot of different things,’’ Kane said. ‘The players, the coaches, the way we coach on the bench during the game, the right match ups and putting ourselves in good situations to succeed.
‘‘You can look at our room and say, ‘Yeah, there’s a lot of talent there and a lot of good players. But there has to be the intangible that pulls it together on the road and helps you win [road] games.’’
Defenseman Duncan Keith doesn’t think there’s any issue with the Blackhawks’ history of losses in road openers. ‘‘I wouldn’t look too far back,’’ Keith said. ‘‘I think every year’s a new year. It’s a different group in here than it was last year. We’re focused with this group in here [on] this time around. I just want to focus on having a good start to the game and try to carry it through.’’
That, as Keith explained, is the key to winning on the road.
‘‘We want to come out and have a good start,’’ he said. ‘‘You do that by keeping it simple, having fun and using the experience of knowing you’re going to face adversity throughout the game. We just want to keep that first five or 10 minutes as simple as we can and get pucks behind them and use our speed.’’