Inch by inch, game by game, the Blackhawks believe they are starting to get things together against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference finals.
After a 5-2 loss in the series opener, the Hawks looked much more confident while taking the Wings to overtime Tuesday only to drop a tough 3-2 decision.
"I think there's still another level to go," left wing Andrew Ladd said Wednesday. "I think the first game we weren't very good at all. The second game we took steps in the right direction.
"We still have some things we need to improve on, but I thought we got a lot better in Game 2."
The only problem is there isn't much time left seeing how they trail the series 2-0 heading into Friday's pivotal Game 3 at the United Center. But if you think desperation has begun to settle in the Hawks' locker room, think again.
"I just think you don't want to panic," said Ladd, who was part of a Stanley Cup winner with the Carolina Hurricanes. "Every team goes through runs, has a little adversity they have to face.
"I know with Carolina, our first round against Montreal the year we won, we lost our first two games at home and ended up winning the series in six."
Coach Joel Quenneville has faith that his young team will rebound Friday as it has throughout the postseason.
What figures to be a raucous atmosphere at the United Center sure won't hurt.
"We've been resilient in a lot of ways this year," Quenneville said. "The beat of our team has been pretty consistent throughout the playoffs. I think we can build on the positives of how we played (Tuesday), knowing that we did improve.
"If we can look to improve off those levels, knowing we're at home, taking advantage of the enthusiasm in the building, we can get ourselves back into it."
Center Sammy Pahlsson, another former Stanley Cup champion on the Hawks, gauged his teammates after Tuesday's loss and liked what he saw.
"Yeah, I think so," Pahlsson said. "We all thought we played a lot better in the second game. We think we played a lot better than the first one, so that's what we wanted. We didn't get the results we wanted, but we did what we wanted.
"I don't think we have to calm down the team. We have a good feeling; we know we're down 2-0 and have a little bit of a hill to climb, but it's not over yet. We all know that."