09/30/2009 2:19 PM - From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
ZURICH, Switzerland -- In the wake of a shocking loss to ZSC Zurich in the Victoria Cup, the Chicago Blackhawks spent the remainder of Tuesday night looking for answers.
Tuesday's loss, which came in a tight-checking, physical affair, erased all the good feelings engendered by a 9-2 win against HC Davos, the reigning Swiss champions, just 24 hours earlier.
"It's tough, especially the way we played last night (against Davos) when I thought we played very well," said forward Patrick Kane, who had four goals in the past two games before being held off the board Tuesday night. "Then to have an effort like that; it's definitely something that is tough to swallow. But we'll have to learn from it and move on from here. We got bigger things ahead of us. It'll be tough to put this one behind us.
Those "bigger things" for the Hawks involve the regular season, which begins for them on Friday in Helsinki. Chicago opens the season with two games against Florida at Hartwall Arena in 2009 NHL Compuware Premiere-Helsinki.
Much is expected this season after the renaissance the Blackhawks underwent in their run from also-rans to the Western Conference Finals last spring. But if the Hawks expect to duplicate or better last year's showing, they know efforts like Tuesday night will not cut it.
"I think (Zurich) played more of a team game than we did," alternate captain Patrick Sharp said. "They played well. They played hard and just played like they wanted it more than we did today.
Zurich was especially good against Chicago in the defensive zone, playing a zone defense that emphasized aggressively taking away Chicago's space down low. Such a philosophy seemed to shock the Hawks after the more passive one-on-one defending that Davos deployed on Monday night.
"They were playing more of a zone where you had to make some perfect passes and get some rebounds," Kane told NHL.com. "I don't know if they took notes from the (Davos game) or what they did; but they did a good job defensively and we didn't capitalize on our chances."
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville didn't like the finishing his team showed Tuesday night, but he also didn't like some of the decisions they made with the puck on their stick.
"We tried to make too many fancy plays early in the game and then we found ourselves in a hockey game and they found a way to win it," Quenneville said. "These guys had a real purpose in their game."
Chicago goalie Cristobal Huet did not play badly in his final preseason start, but he was not a difference-maker. He had no chance on Zurich's first goal, a breakaway by Patrik Bartschi, but he left a big rebound that was banged home by Lukas Grauwiler for the game-winner.
Huet said he would learn from his mistakes and believed his team would do the same.
"It didn't go well for us today, but now the season starts and what is at stake Friday night is two points," he said. "We're going to try to take the lessons of the win and loss. Overall, we are going to have to regroup and play our game on the smaller ice and do what made us successful."
Despite the loss to Zurich, Sharp believes the Hawks can quickly relocate the things that made them successful last season.
"We can learn a lot from this," Sharp said. "They certainly came with a strategy and stuck to it. In our locker room, we think we can play with any team in the world; so we are going to remain confident as we start our season."
Confidence is good, Quenneville said. But he hopes that his Hawks remember this loss -- and the lessons it can deliver -- for a while.
"Tomorrow we'll go to Finland and get excited about being there and play the first NNHL game there and it's a great opportunity," Quenneville told NHL.com. "We had a great time here in Switzerland. We know it is going to be very competitive and, like tonight, teams are going to be ready for us."