EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The bumps and bruises are always there for every NHL squad; they’re just part of the season. For the Chicago Blackhawks, they’ve also been a big part of this road trip.
It’s never surprising when the Blackhawks are outhit during a game; they dish out their share, but their game is built more on speed and puck possession. But they’ve faced the cream of the bruising crop on this road trip, from Calgary at the start to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night. The hit parade will surely continue on Wednesday when they face the Anaheim Ducks.
But the Blackhawks, who are currently 2-0-2 on this trip, are weathering the punishment just fine.
“Every team hits. It’s just that these teams are a little more known for being bigger, stronger,” Kris Versteeg said after Tuesday’s practice. “But in the end you battle every night no matter who you play. Bumps and bruises are part of the game and we’ll be ready (on Wednesday).”
Still, the Blackhawks have been knocked around pretty good. Calgary outhit them 18-11, the smallest margin of any of the games. Vancouver had a 24-12 edge. San Jose and Los Angeles had lopsided hit edges, 30-9 and 36-10, respectively.
The Blackhawks, however, aren’t concerned. Again, while other teams are hitting them, they’re dictating the pace for most of these contests. They’ve gotten six out of a possible eight points thus far on the trip and are coming out of these games fairly well physically.
We’re coming up on the Olympic break, where half the team will get some rest and the other half will be playing in games where the physical game isn’t stressed nearly as much. Yes, the Blackhawks have been knocked around lately. They love the intense games and atmosphere, however, and taking the lumps is just part of that.
“We look at the games, they’re very intense games like we see in our division and in the Western Conference. They’re intense, you’re on the road and you have to be willing to play a hard game, and I think we’ve done that,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It’s been a good trip so far. We know we’re going into a tough place (on Wednesday) and we want to make sure we sustain it, because we expect much of the same.”