Quenneville, Hawks working out right mix of rest and practice

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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.

Johnny Oduya won't play when Blackhawks face Penguins

Johnny Oduya won't play when Blackhawks face Penguins

The Blackhawks are happy to have Johnny Oduya back in the fold. They just won’t be getting him back on the ice tonight.

Oduya is expected to be here at some point today but will not play when the Blackhawks face the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks got Oduya back on Tuesday night, sending Mark McNeill and a conditional fourth-round pick from the 2018 NHL draft to the Dallas Stars.

Coach Joel Quenneville already has designs on re-pairing Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson, who formed a great duo during previous seasons. But that's when Hjalmarsson comes off his upper-body injury; on Tuesday Hjalmarsson was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to Thursday.

It's dependent on Oduya's health, too. The defenseman is coming off a re-aggravated ankle injury that cost him more than a month; he was back in the Stars' lineup on Sunday against the Boston Bruins. Quenneville said the Blackhawks will give Oduya as much time as necessary to be 100 percent healthy.

"We'll see how he is and where he's at," Quenneville said. "We're looking forward to getting him on the ice and making sure, coming off this injury, he's more than ready to go."

As for tonight's game, Scott Darling will get the start. Corey Crawford, coming off an illness, skated again this morning and will serve as the backup against the Penguins.

"I felt way better today," Crawford said. "It was a good practice. Just go with the flow, no rush right now. 'Darls' is playing great so that's always good. I just gotta battle, get the timing back in practice and go from there."

Artem Anisimov, who missed Tuesday's practice, skated this morning and will play tonight.

BLACKHAWKS VS. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

7 p.m.

TV: NBCSN

Live stream: NBC Sports app

Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Tomas Jurco-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Andrew Desjardins

 

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell-Michal Rozsival

 

Goaltender

Scott Darling

 

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body).

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forward lines

Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Jake Guentzel

Carl Hagelin-Evgeni Malkin-Patric Hornqvist

Scott Wilson-Nick Bonino-Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl-Matt Cullen-Eric Fehr

Defensive Pairs

Brian Dumoulin-Ron Hainsey

Cameron Gaunce-Justin Schultz

Ian Cole-Chad Ruhwedel

Goaltender

Marc-Andre Fleury

INJURIES/ILLNESS: None.

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