In lieu of borrowing coach Dave Toub from the Bears for a couple weeks or months, the Blackhawks will have to make do with the anticipated return of a special player to help their struggling special teams.
That would be Jonathan Toews, whose return could spark an uptick on the power play and penalty-killing units — both of which ranked near the bottom of the league in the regular season.
“Having Johnny back, it gives us a new look,” said Marian Hossa. “We have to work hard and have somebody in front of the net, otherwise it doesn’t matter who’s out there on the power play, it won’t work if you got a goalie like (the Coyotes’ Mike) Smith in the net.”
Toews spent some time practicing with the power-play units Monday at Johnny’s Ice House.
“Yeah it’s good to get back and prepare,” Toews said. “You have to go through those motions and practice that a little bit and make sure you are on the same page with everybody else.
“I’m trying to get as close as I can to being ready to adjust to game pace.”
After missing the final two games of the regular season with what he termed “bumps and bruises,” center Dave Bolland will be ready to roll when the puck drops in Phoenix on Thursday night.
“I’m pretty anxious to get going,” Bolland said. “The playoffs are always a fun time.”
His teammates are just as anxious to see him back out centering the third line.
“He plays that role on the third line, on the checking line, perfectly,” Patrick Sharp said.
“He does a good job against the other teams’ top lines and he chips in offensively this time of year. He’s a big part of the team.”
In addition to Bolland’s return, Andrew Brunette skated Monday with the fourth line and looks like a go for Game 1.
“Everything has been moving along pretty good,” Brunette said. “That extra week of rest really helped.”
Business in front ... business in back:
Unless he reverses course over the next few days, it looks like Patrick Kane will be sans mullet for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“No. It didn’t work last year,” Kane said of rocking a mullet again this postseason.
Any special plans at all for the hair?
“I don’t think so,” he said. “We’ve been winning as of late, so I’ll stick with what’s been working.”
He said it:
“You know as well as I do, being in the hockey world, you get a hot goalie, you’ve got a chance in the playoffs. That’s who usually wins it, the guy that’s the hottest goalie, and he (Mike Smith) is about as hot as you can get right now.”
— Cubs manager Dale Sveum on the Hawks-Coyotes series. Sveum declined to make a prediction on the outcome,Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.