Blackhawks’ youngsters not distracted by Stanley Cup dreams in Game 6

BOSTON – When the Chicago Blackhawks step on to the ice Monday night in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, they’ll do so with eight players who played against the Philadelphia Flyers that night in 2010 when Patrick Kane’s shot fooled everyone for a few moments. (Bryan Bickell was on the team, but did not play in Game 6.)

Three years later, after some roster re-shaping thanks to their time in salary cap hell, the Blackhawks are again in a position to add a banner to the United Center rafters. In 2010, John Madden and Andrew Ladd were the only players on the roster with a Cup ring. Now, they’re a matured, experienced group.

Helping the Blackhawks’ Cup vets are the assorted characters that fill out the roster: the guys who haven’t been here; who are young and inexperienced or older and experienced, but have never had this opportunity presented in front of them.

That's why on Sunday night during a team meeting, some of the Blackhawks' players who were on that 2010 squad spoke about grasping the opportunity in front of them.

"Some emotional speeches really touched the heart of some guys," said 21-year old forward Andrew Shaw.

"They were saying you look forward to things, but to win you’ve got to focus on one last game and the fourth game is always the hardest,” said 22-year old defenseman Nick Leddy.

It's impossible for any Blackhawks player to not get ahead of themselves and think. These players have dreamed of this moment since they were kids.

But before the champagne bottles can be popped, the focus has to be on the task at hand: Game 6. So how does a young player not get ahead of himself?

“You think of it as just another game," said Leddy. "I know that’s going to be hard to do. It’s easier said than done. You’ve got to try and keep it like that."

Said Michael Frolik, "It’s not easy, but obviously some things are going through your mind."

The pre-game nap for some Blackhawks might just turn into a couple hours of tossing and turning.

In 2010, the Blackhawks were young up-and-comers, with a few veterans. The words from the older guys back then proved worthy in the series against the Flyers.

"I think it's very beneficial," said head coach Joel Quenneville. "We look back, back in 2010, we were in the same situation. Johnny Madden had been there and [Marian] Hossa had been there and it was nice listening to those guys that had been in that situation.

"But at the end of the day, we all dream about this challenge and this opportunity, and let's go take advantage of it."

And it's not just the younger guys to be concerned about. Even the older guys, like 36-year old Michal Handzus, are willing to listen.

“They’ve been there before, I haven’t,” he said. “So I’ll take any advice I can.”

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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