Back-to-back games. There’s a grind that comes with playing them, obviously. It’s about putting the best effort out there in Game 1 while trying to save some energy for Game 2.
The Chicago Blackhawks came out of their Game 1 against the Los Angeles Kings as well as they could have: they won 2-1, spread minutes around well and feel pretty good physically. But they know what comes with playing Game 2 this quickly. The Blackhawks will have to be ready for a push back from the Kings, and they’ll have to be ready to ward off any weariness from Game 1.
“I think we feel comfortable and it's the same situation for both teams. That's always a good line to throw out there,” Johnny Oduya said to laughs at this morning’s availability. “Obviously it’s a little bit different than is usually done. But we feel comfortable. We rolled a lot of lines, played a lot of guys in more spread-out minutes. I think, come tonight, we’ll be ready to play.”
They’ll have to be. Obviously the Blackhawks want to hold home-ice serve but the Kings will be determined to even the series heading back to the Staples Center, where they’re undefeated this postseason. They’ll be physical again, and probably bring more shots than they did in Game 1 when they had just two in first period and 22 for the game.
The Blackhawks had their share of regular-season back-to-backs and went 10-1-1 in them. The tight lockout schedule led to having those; the Blackhawks’ propensity for rolling those four lines led to their success in them. The playoffs are a different beast, of course, and coach Joel Quenneville said it’s about building off Game 1.
“With back to back games, we want to make sure we don't take anything for granted,” he said. “We want to make sure we get off to a strong start and utilize everybody early in the game and set a faster pace than we did yesterday.”
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Hard to imagine the Blackhawks setting a faster pace than in Game 1, when they dominated first-period play and got off to a 17-2 shot advantage. But that’s the plan.
Back to backs aren’t easy, especially to start off a playoff series. But it is what it is; and after having so many days in between their round-two games against Detroit, the Blackhawks are fine with getting the games closer together.
“I think we're just happy that we're going to get into more of a routine in this series, that we're going to be playing more often,” Toews said. “I'm sure they want to bounce back and be better than
they were last night and I think we have room for improvement off of Game 1, as well. We're excited to have a chance to get right back into it.”