The Blackhawks didn’t end their road trip as smashingly as they started it. But a 3-1-0 trek across the country was nevertheless successful, and they’re still atop the Western Conference standings.
Now a four-day schedule of resting, practicing – and watching – begins.
The Blackhawks head into a four-day respite, their longest of the season. And much like the three-day break they had just before this latest road trip, the Blackhawks plan on making the most of it.
“It’s something we need to take advantage of, to use that rest and time. We’ll definitely try to recharge the batteries,” Jonathan Toews said. “Other than the finish [Wednesday night], it was a good road trip this week. We’ve really been building our game and playing smart as a team, especially with [Patrick] Sharp and [Marian] Hossa out of the lineup. We’ll use those four days, get back at it and be excited to come back and play better.”
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Indeed, the Blackhawks could heal up a little, anyway. Sharp probably still won’t be ready when the break ends Monday -– March 27 would mark three weeks since he suffered his shoulder injury against Colorado. But Hossa could be. Coach Joel Quenneville said last night that he’s hopeful Hossa, who suffered an upper-body injury last Monday, could be ready for this Monday’s game against Los Angeles.
And as for Patrick Kane, well, the rest will serve him very well. Kane was tremendous on the road trip, especially in Dallas and in Colorado, where he double-shifted his way to 22 minutes, 30 seconds of ice time. But doubling up again vs. Anaheim, playing a team-high 25:21, Kane’s fatigue, understandably, started to show. He blamed the loss on himself, and admitted the break won’t be a bad thing.
“I think it’ll be nice to get a break for me,” said Kane. “Hopefully we get some injuries resolved and come back with a better game next game.”
While the Blackhawks take a break, other NHL teams will continue to play. That includes the Anaheim Ducks, who are three points behind the Blackhawks and will host Detroit Friday and Sunday. The Blackhawks can’t control what happens during their down time, but they’ll be watching nonetheless.
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“We watch hockey every night,” Quenneville said. “Games are so intense, so meaningful. There’s jockeying for positioning, so many looking to get that [top] spot. We’ll definitely watch games.”
First and foremost, however, the Blackhawks will watch themselves. They’ll get the necessary rest and practice to prep for their final 18 games of the regular season. Then they’ll look to get back on the roll that got them here in the first place.
“Every game’s tough, every game’s going to be competitive, and we had some good wins earlier on the road trip,” Duncan Keith said. “We’ll keep it in perspective: we did some good things [Wednesday]. And we have four days to regroup and refresh like we did a week ago.”