The waiting game: it can be beneficial or a burden, depending on how you treat it. Either way, the Blackhawks are stuck playing it. So with a few days before they start their second round, the Blackhawks hope to strike a balance between getting good rest and better practices.
The Blackhawks hit the ice on Saturday, their first practice since eliminating the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference quarterfinals on Thursday night. Coach Joel Quenneville deemed it a good one, as the team waits to find out its second-round opponent. They’re very familiar with both. It could be the San Jose Sharks, who are also resting/preparing after sweeping the Vancouver Canucks. It could be the Detroit Red Wings, who will play the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 on Sunday night. If the Wings win, Chicago hosts Detroit; if not, they host the Sharks.
For the Blackhawks, it’s not so much preparing for either potential opponent right now. It’s just about getting the most out of rest and practices. Considering how grueling the postseason can be, the Blackhawks will take these days.
“It’s nice,” Patrick Kane said. “You saw practice today; it was a really good pace and that’s what we’re going to need to bring to our next round to be successful. Maybe the first round was a warm-up for us because we didn’t play that well. But a lot of us feel there’s a lot more in the tank here and we can get a lot better.”
Ah, yes, that need to improve: the Blackhawks talked about it every game throughout their first round and said they still finished not playing their best. They wanted to be crisper, with more intensity and pace. Quenneville said he saw that at practice today.
“Loved our practice; our best we’ve had since the postseason started. We want to go in that way into the next round,” he said. “It’s not a switch: you have to be at that same pace in practice so you can play that pace in games.”
Kicking back a few days won’t hurt, either. The Blackhawks took Friday off and will do the same on Sunday. Again, it’s a long haul -– they hope, anyway.
“Rest is important with these high-tempo games and how many you play in a short amount of time,” Bryan Bickell said. “And it’s nice to sit and wait to see who’s next.”
The Blackhawks will be sitting, and practicing, and waiting, and watching. They’ll be tuning into Detroit-Anaheim tomorrow night to see who they’re facing next. Otherwise, it’s all about honing their game for that next opponent.
“We’ll be watching hockey tomorrow night and see what happens, and then get ready after that,” Kane said. “You just try to stay focused and get yourself mentally and physically ready for the start.”