The Chicago Blackhawks will take a seven-game road-winning streak into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday night at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.
Goalie Antti Niemi has been largely responsible for that road success and figures to be put to the test by the Flyers.
Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette challenged his team to be tougher on Niemi in Game 3, a strategy others have tried in the playoffs without success.
"Our team is capable of scoring a lot of goals, put a lot of pressure on him," Laviolette said. "It's a tough position, goaltending. He's representing a city that hasn't won a Cup in 50 years. We have to give him a crack of doubt. We can do that [Wednesday night]."
Go ahead and try was pretty much the Hawks' response to Laviolette's tough talk.
"Teams have tried to get at him and get traffic and bump him a little bit," Hawks defenceman Brent Seabrook said. "You know, he's really answered the bell. I don't think he lets that stuff get to him. He just continues to play his game, which has been great for us."
Added Patrick Sharp: "Yeah, it seems like all season people have been waiting for Antti to slow down and show he's a rookie. To score goals in the playoffs, it's no secret; you've got to get to the net, and get puck and bodies there and disrupt the goaltender as much as you can. We're not surprised by those comments. I guess we're going to try to do the same thing to their goalie."
Now worries about Toews, Kane
The Hawks' depth has been the difference. Dave Bolland's line has been dangerous, as has the second line of Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Troy Brouwer.
The Sharp line has produced four goals in the first two games.
"Our first line was carrying the team through the whole playoffs," Hossa said. "I don't think they're struggling; they're creating chances, but they couldn't put the puck in the net the first two games."
"We're not worried about Johnny, Patrick, and Dustin," Sharp said. "They've had a great playoff, a great season. They do so much more for us than put pucks in the net, so it doesn't concern us.
"We've said all playoff long that we don't care who scores the goals as long as we're getting the wins."
The Flyers felt they could have won both games in Chicago, but the fact is they didn't.
The Sharks felt the same way last round and they were swept.
The Hawks just know how to win.
"Somehow we end up with more goals than them," centre John Madden said. "Timing is everything. We've just been able to hold on, or get the penalty kill at the right time, or the power-play goal, and that's always been the difference. That's playoff hockey."
Eager vs. Pronger
As the final horn sounded, ending the Hawks' 2-1 win, Pronger skated over to the puck and picked it up.
Eager didn't like it and confronted Pronger. It was then that cameras caught the Flyers defenceman shooting a towel at Eager that led to a heated verbal exchange with both players receiving 10-minute misconduct penalties.
"He's been picking up pucks after the game, and I just told him he can keep it," Eager said after the game.
Pronger was his sarcastic self when asked about shooting the towel at Eager.
"I don't know, did I?" Pronger told reporters. "Wow. You're intuitive. Good for you. Next."
Pronger was asked about the exchange with Eager.
"I don't speak that language, whatever he was speaking," said Pronger. "I couldn't hear him.
"Apparently, it got him upset, so I guess it worked, didn't it? It's too bad. I guess little things amuse little minds."
Eager didn't want to waste his time talking about Pronger on Tuesday.
"I'm not too worried what happened last night after the game," Eager said. "We're just going to leave that on the ice."
Added Patrick Sharp: "If he wants the puck he can have it. We're thinking about hockey between the whistles and during the 60 minutes."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette thought the whole thing was silly.
"What is it you're going to do? The Hawks? What added incentive do they have now?" Laviolette said. "They're mad? They're angry? It's the playoffs. We're going to show up. We're going to compete like [heck] tomorrow night, I promise you that.
"I don't know what else they're going to do, because we stole their puck. I think it's funny, just like you guys are laughing right now. I think it's kind of comical. Prongs wants the puck, take it."