The Blackhawks six-game road trip ended on a sour note after a 2-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night. It was the first time the Hawks had been shut out in nearly two years.
For several of the Blackhawks, they will use the Olympic break as a means of rest and relaxation, but for 10 members of the team, their break may be as intense as going through the rigors of an 82-game NHL season.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith will begin their quest to help Team Canada repeat as Winter Olympics gold medal winners on Thursday, Feb. 13 against Norway.
“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.”
Besides the Canadian trio, Blackhawks points leader Patrick Kane will represent the United States team in Sochi. The threesome of Marcus Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya will play for Team Sweden. Marian Hossa and Michal Handsuz were picked to represent Slovakia and Michal Rozsival was chosen to play for the Czech Republic. The Hawks are tied with both the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings for most Olympians by NHL team.
Following the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Blackhawks went on to win the Stanley Cup in a thrilling six-game series over the Philadelphia Flyers. Chicago will use that experience in their quest to repeat as Cup champions this summer.
"For us, I think we have the maturity to use this towards our advantage," Toews said. "Some guys are going to take advantage and maybe take some time off that they wouldn't do during the season. That's good mentally, you come back and you're in even better shape and play your best hockey going down the stretch."