PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Chicago Blackhawks filed out of the locker room, set to go their separate ways for a few weeks.
The trip didn’t end as well as the Blackhawks would’ve liked, as they suffered their first regular-season shutout in nearly two years. Their main goal was to stay near the top of the Western Conference, and they’ve done that; depending on what Anaheim and St. Louis do in Saturday games, they’ll either stay in second or move to third.
Either way, the trip was a success.
“It was really important (to play well) before getting two weeks off,” Corey Crawford said. “You always want to go in with a little momentum, get some points before a long break. We’re just going to try to get some rest and be ready for when we start up again.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said recently that he wondered how the Blackhawks would respond on this trip. With half his team going to the Olympic Games and the other half hitting vacations/rests, it was an understandable concern. The Blackhawks took a “business-like” approach, however, and it showed in a 3-1-2 trip.
“It was a positive road trip; we got a point (almost) every game,” he said. “This was the one (game) where our start wasn’t as efficient as the other five. At the same time, we liked what we accomplished for the most part. We put ourselves in a decent spot going into the break. Guys who are going to the Olympics, we’re rooting for them. Guys who are breaking, get yourself ready.”
[Quenneville: It was a very positive road trip]
There’s a sense of excitement for the Olympians, especially Team Canada members Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp. For Toews, the potential for the team to repeat its gold-medal winning performance of 2010 is enticing.
“I love our chances,” Toews said. “It’s really exciting just to get over there with the team, to compare the experience with what it was like in Vancouver and pressure to repeat. All that thrown together, it’s going to be amazing. We’ll go over there with a couple teammates; we’ll be facing a few as well. I’m just looking forward to every opportunity. It’s going to be a great trip.”
The Blackhawks didn’t get exactly the ending they were looking for on this trip but they like the overall result. Whether they’re Olympic or vacation bound, they plan to pick up where they left off when they come together again later this month.
“We wanted to finish better than tonight but we played some great hockey, knowing the break was coming up,” Toews said. “We wanted to play well on this road trip; we did pretty well at that. Guys can go their own way, enjoy the break and come back refreshed. And for the guys who keep playing, obviously it keeps going.”