Bryan Bickell will be like many of the Blackhawks tonight: glued to the television, watching the Colorado-Minnesota game.
“I’ll be watching, on the couch with my two dogs,” Bickell said with a grin. “But whoever we play, we’re excited and looking forward to getting back in games.”
The Blackhawks hit the ice on Wednesday for the first time since their Game 6 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. They resumed practice still uncertain of their second-round opponent; that will be decided tonight. If Colorado wins, the Blackhawks will head there tomorrow to get acclimated to the higher altitude and thinner air. If it’s the Wild, the Blackhawks will have home-ice advantage. In both cases, dates and times of the series are to be determined.
No matter which team they play, however, the Blackhawks are feeling refreshed and ready to roll.
“It’s good not to think about hockey for a couple of days and rest up and relax,” Corey Crawford said. “The most important thing is the mental break. We can’t control (who we play). It’s just a matter of controlling what you can. We had two days of rest so we did that and now we’re getting back into a practice and back into the swing of things.”
The first practice back wasn’t the zippiest the Blackhawks have had. Coach Joel Quenneville expects it to be more intense tomorrow. What he doesn’t expect is the Blackhawks to lose momentum they built off that first-round triumph over the Blues.
“I don’t think you lose it. Both teams have it in a new series,” Quenneville said. “For sure, the team that wins tonight will be sky high and excited about starting the series. It’s not like we’ve been off that long, and you know how hard and challenging it was. That last series should give us excitement in our game as well and getting off to a better start than the first series; it’s what we’ve talked about.”
Brandon Bollig said there are positives and negatives to the rest-vs.-momentum argument.
“Obviously we get a couple days to rest and they might not, whoever we play. They get to stay in the swing of things. But we also get to rest our bodies,” he said. “There are positives and negatives. I don’t think there’s necessarily a bad way of going about it. I think it’s nice for us to get a couple days rest and let guys kind of heal the little nagging injuries if they have them.”
The Blackhawks will play the waiting game for a few more hours. Regardless of their opponent, however, they want to be playing their game, their way from the start.
“That was a good test for us to come out of that series,” Bickell said. “Last year against Minnesota, I don’t want to say we coasted but we weren’t playing good hockey. Then we played Detroit and got our hands handed to us. To come out of that (St. Louis) series, we have confidence.”