CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane sat at his locker stall after Thursday's fast-paced and short practice at United Center. When he glanced up, Kane saw he was surrounded by several television cameras, as well as reporters from every type of media.
Yes, the Chicago Blackhawks are a big deal in this town. There is a craze over this team and it's taken over the city.
The Hawks came home for the first time since May 10 with a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Final. If the fans get their way, their beloved team will close out the San Jose Sharks on United Center ice Sunday afternoon.
Kane couldn't look that far ahead, however. Game 3 is Friday (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS), and that's at the forefront of his thinking. Read on for what else is on his mind:
Q: Has Jonathan Toews' game found another level since the Olympics?
Kane: Yeah. After the Olympics for me it was a little bit tougher to come back to the regular season because you have 20 games left, but it's a long 20 games and you're thinking about the playoffs that whole time. He's been pretty consistent ever since and now you see the numbers piling up for him. It's good for our team and it's great to see out of him. It's exciting for our whole team that he's doing this for us. Not only is he leading in the locker room, but when you see him doing those things on the ice it's huge for our team.
Q: It's been a long time since you guys played a game in the United Center. What will it like to be back home?
Kane: Usually in the playoffs you don't go on 11- or 12-day road trips, or whatever it was for us. It was a long time to be away from home, but at the same time it was exciting to get back yesterday. You see the excitement in the town, how everyone is looking forward to us doing good things. It's good to be back. We're looking forward to playing in our rink. We have been playing really good on the road, so it would be nice to get this home record up, too.
Q: Do you anticipate that the Sharks will make any changes?
Kane: I doubt it. I don't know what changes they can make, to be honest with you. In the third period last game you saw them switch up (Dany) Heatley and move (Devin) Setoguchi to the top line and Heatley went with (Joe) Pavelski. I'm sure when you're losing you're thinking about changing it up a bit, but to be honest they haven't played that bad. It's been even games.
Q: When you come home you get amped up, but tomorrow night do you guys try to simplify your game at home?
Kane: That's exactly what you have to do. You have to play it like it's a road game. I think when you play simple it seems like the show comes, to be honest with you. It's one of those things, if you're doing all the little things then all the big plays will happen. When you're on home ice, we're going to get the matchups we want, but we want to play a simplified game and make sure we're doing the right things.
Q: Has it hit you yet just how close you guys are to getting to where you want to be, and do you think about that?
Kane: Yeah, you do. It's tough not to, but you really shouldn't. The biggest thing is to be ready for Game 3 because every game is so important. It's 2-0 in the series, but if they win one and make it 2-1 it seems like they have life and it's a whole new series. Going into Game 3 we feel it's a must-win situation. We know how good of a team they are over there and we can't give them any life.
Q: What did you guys learn from Game 5 against the Canucks, the last time you played here, because it seems like your game has really taken off since then?
Kane: In that game it seemed like we were in a good position and we probably did want to put on a little bit of a show for the fans. We weren't making the simple plays. That's what you can't do. Looking back on that game, we know we have to take advantage of home ice. It's a huge advantage in the playoffs, especially in this building.
Q: Since that game, have you seen this team play any better? Is this the best you have been all season?
Kane: I think we have been pretty good, but we feel there is still better in the tank. It seems like San Jose is out-chancing us and out-shooting us, and that's really not something that has happened to us. That's different for us and it's something we can improve on. We know if we're up 2-0 and we can still improve, that's a good sign.
Q: Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you say earlier that this is a must-win situation for you guys?
Kane: I think so. If you give them 2-1, you give them life and they're a really good team over there, so you never know what can happen. For our team, we haven't had the success on home ice that we have had on the road, so it's almost like you have to win back here to get those standards back up. I mean, to define it as a must-win, every game is a must-win in the playoffs to me.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl