There’s no time of the year like this one for Michal Handzus.
The Chicago Blackhawks veteran didn’t have the regular season he would’ve liked, especially with inconsistent play. But this the time of year is different. As much as the first 82 games can be grueling, the postseason brings a rejuvenating feeling, in a way.
“Obviously it’s a lot of fun,” said Handzus, who will start this postseason where he finished the last one, centering the second line with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. “It’s different hockey; it’s just way more fun. It’s fun to play all the time in the regular season, but come the playoffs, it’s a different feel.”
The different feeling aside, Handzus is looking for the same postseason he had in 2013, when he was a key part of the Blackhawks’ run to their second Stanley Cup in four seasons. The center, acquired at the trade deadline from the San Jose Sharks, had three goals and eight assists and was a plus-7 in 23 postseason games.
Now the Blackhawks are looking for that same chemistry with that group. Handzus, who hoisted his first career Cup, likes the familiarity he has with Hossa and Sharp.
“We just compliment each other,” he said. “We were good playing defensively and when they had the puck they were awesome with it. It’s just a matter of knowing what we need to do and doing it.”
Sharp said there’s definitely chemistry, outside of the language, of course.
“The only problem is, I can’t understand what they’re saying on the bench because they’re speaking Slovak,” said Sharp, who first played with Handzus during their time in Philadelphia together years ago. “He’s a reliable center man, good in all zones, and he’s a guy you can count on out there. I feel comfortable playing with those guys.”
Coach Joel Quenneville has long liked what Handzus brings, especially last postseason.
“He’s useful in a lot of ways. He’s predictable, dependable,” Quenneville said. “I thought that last year he was a big factor. Whoever he played with, that line was getting the job done for us and that’s what we’re looking for now.”
The playoffs, a time where Handzus thrived last season, are upon us again. He’d love to repeat the overall result, and he knows what part he has to play to make that happen.
“I know what my job is on the line,” Handzus said. “We know what we need to do to be successful. We just have to do it.”