The Chicago Blackhawks got away from the rink, got away from hockey in taking the past two days off from practice.
It probably wasn’t a bad idea, considering how injuries are cropping up now. Bryan Bickell’s been out nearly two weeks, although his return seems imminent. Patrick Kane is out with a left leg injury until the postseason and Jonathan Toews, who suffered an apparent shoulder injury on Sunday, could also miss some time.
The break comes at a good time, really. The Blackhawks, mired in a three-game losing streak, have looked tired as of late. We’re guessing that, because they’d never say that. But let’s face it: the Blackhawks have played a lot of hockey over the past two seasons, with little respite. That goes double for the Blackhawks’ 10 Olympians.
So while the Blackhawks rest, we shall muse on a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
1. Coach Joel Quenneville is expected to have an update on Toews at Wednesday’s practice. Even if it’s not serious, as Quenneville figured it wouldn’t be following Sunday night’s game, don’t be surprised if Toews sits for a bit. Here’s what Quenneville said on Sunday: “This time of the year we want to make sure Johnny gets better and fresh. Whether it’s a break or not, we’ll see. We want to make sure our health and being rested going into the playoffs is a priority.” The captain is one of the Blackhawks who has played a ton of hockey. As unfortunate as the injury is, it’s a chance for him to catch his breath, heal and refresh. Getting home ice for the first round is one thing; having a healthy Toews in the playoffs is another.
2. Bryan Bickell told WGN Radio on Tuesday that he’s “pretty sure” he’ll play Thursday against the Minnesota Wild. That’s good news for several reasons. First, the Blackhawks could use a set of fresh, energetic legs in a lineup that’s feeling their collective ones down this stretch. Second, if Bickell comes with the type of game he had against the St. Louis Blues, where he was engaged, physical and noticeable for all the right reasons, it could be a harbinger of that postseason game he can bring so well.
3. Teuvo Teravainen showed a little bit of everything last week. He showed he can win faceoffs. He showed he can skate. He also showed that he still has much to learn. That last one isn’t a surprise to the Blackhawks or Teravainen himself. The 19-year-old gets it: this is a new world to him and it’s going to take time to adjust. The same goes for his Europe-to-NHL hockey game. Teravainen was a healthy scratch against Ottawa after a so-so outing vs. Boston. As Quenneville said, Teravainen wasn’t playing his game. He was passing when he should’ve shot, playing with hesitation. Watching him vs. the Penguins, however, you saw the message got through to him. Teravainen is a talent. He just needs time to develop it and get more comfortable.
4. I’m going to end on a personal note. Many of us said our final good-byes to Tim Sassone, who passed away last week. One of my first great chats with Tim came in the fall of 2010. The Blackhawks were skating in Atlanta and I was reading Bob Probert’s book, “Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge.” In one chapter, Probert wrote about the Blackhawks going through a slump, using one of Tim’s stories to illustrate what was happening. I pointed it out to Tim; he read the passage, closed the book, handed it back to me and said with a grin, “That’s a good story.” I thought that was marvelous. Most of you knew Tim Sassone, the writer. It was a privilege for me to get to know Tim Sassone, the wonderful man, these past few years.