Quenneville, Hawks working out right mix of rest and practice


Quenneville, Hawks working out right mix of rest and practice

The Blackhawks practice schedule has been pretty quiet lately.

Actually, since starting the regular season on Jan. 19, the Blackhawks havent had one. Instead, theyve used those precious days between games to rest, to recuperate and recharge for their following game.

Guys dont mind having days off, coach Joel Quenneville recently said with a smile.

Yes, those days off are nice to have. But considering this hectic 48-game season, theyre more of a necessity than anything. The Blackhawks just wrapped up a slate of six games in nine days during which, any off day in between was truly an off day. When the Blackhawks take the ice on Tuesday, itll be their first practice since Jan. 18, the day before their season began.

The players have obviously relished those rest days with this schedule. And in one way, its not so bad: they usually like playing games over practices, too.

I dont mind this at all, actually, forward Viktor Stalberg said recently. Theres not too much down time but time flies by, playing every other day. Its been exciting so far.

Its not a bad thing, Stalberg said. But we want a practice in there at some point.

And that will come Tuesday. But thats mainly because this is the first time the Blackhawks have had two days in between games. When that happens, there may be more of a chance to practice; but even in those cases, rest may take precedent over on-ice work.

Weve got a pretty good idea, Quenneville said about the practicerest schedule. With a lot of travel days, if youre practicing and then rushing to get on the plane, you may be better off staying away from the rink instead. We dont have a lot of planned practice days based on how were starting, and we could even see fewer as we go along.

Still, as great as the Blackhawks start has been, there are going to be bumps in the road and kinks that need working out. When that happens, the Blackhawks will be reviewing things on film and implementing the changes in morning skate or as soon as they can in the game.

Were playing a lot of games, and everything we need to correct we can go over it in video and put it to good use right away, Jonathan Toews said. We need that attention to detail but we dont have time to practice things. So when its time to correct our mistakes, we have to be diligent about it and be as prepared as we can.

The Blackhawks know theyll need some practices during this sprint-like season. But they know theyll need rest more. With the way the schedule plays out in the early going, theyll likely be doing more of the latter than the former.

There are not a lot of breaks as we go along, Quenneville said. In an 82-game season, one day off (a week) was usually the norm. This year, if we need to stick an extra one in there, well do that.

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

The Blackhawks hit the road on Thursday, and they did so in style.

In support of the Cubs participating in the World Series for the first time since 1945, each member of the Blackhawks sported a Cubs jersey and World Series hat as they hopped onto the plane and traveled to New Jersey.

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

It may not have been as whacky as Joe Maddon's themed road trips, but it's still a perfect excuse for breaking the dress code just this once.

Check out the photos below:

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

When coach Joel Quenneville has put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together it’s usually been during the postseason.

It’s rare when it happens in the regular season and when it does, it seems like an in-case-of-emergency move. But in this case, it may be more of a get-the-captain’s-production-going move.

The Blackhawks made a few more line changes on Thursday, including combining Toews and Kane, as they prepared for Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Marian Hossa moved to right wing on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. Marcus Kruger and Nick Schmaltz flip-flopped as third- and fourth-line centers. Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman were the third-line wings while Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo were on the fourth line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the line changes, including Kane’s move to the first line, were because the Blackhawks continue to look for balance. To a point, that’s true; the Blackhawks still haven’t come close to getting that four-line rotation with which they’ve found so much success. But considering how successful the Toews and Kane combination has been for each, you’d have to think it’s to help bolster Toews’ point totals. Toews has just two assists through the first seven games.

“Right now I think Jonny, his production isn’t where you look at his play – we still always like the way he plays, he’s so useful in so any different ways,” Quenneville said. “I think maybe we get more balance on both lines. We’ve been trying a number of different looks in our top two groups there. over seven games we still need to be better in a lot of ways. hopefully we can find it.”

Still, if you can get your top players producing points, it’s worth a try. And Kane and Toews, regardless of how long they’ve been apart, usually click immediately upon reuniting.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

“Yeah, I guess change can be good in this sense. We can probably produce a little bit more offense and have the puck a little bit more throughout the game,” Kane said. “I’ve played with Jonny a bunch before. Obviously, not as much lately. But I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a fun way to play hockey. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the game, and probably in my mind, the easiest player to play with. It’ll be fun to get back out there with him and try to create something, try to produce and have some fun with it.”

As for that usual second line of Panarin, Anisimov and Kane, remember: as we’ve seen before, it can be put together again fast.

“They get a lot of shifts and a lot of looks. It’s not like we’re too far away from going back to it at any time. It’s always close and available,” Quenneville said. “Maybe we get more balance and a little more scoring across the board.”


- Defenseman Gustav Forsling (upper body) did not skate on Thursday and will not travel to New Jersey. Quenneville is still hoping Forsling can play on Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

- Forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) continues to improve. Quenneville said Desjardins could be skating in the next day or so.

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Devils.