Corey Crawford was half joking Monday when the subject of the pressure on goalies in a shortened season came up.
"Pressure, you're talking about that already?" Crawford said.
Get used to it, pal. There's going to be pressure on everyone, but especially goaltenders, in what turns out to be either a 48-game or 50-game season. That is still is to be determined by the NHL.
Crawford and the Blackhawks would have had enormous pressure on them in a normal 82-game season after two straight first-round playoff exits, but this will be something else.
"You definitely cannot fall asleep at the beginning," winger Marian Hossa said. "There are no 82 games so every game is going to count. We want to make sure we are ready because it's going to be like a playoff chase."
"You're not going to be able to take a night off," center Dave Bolland said. "You've got to be steady every night. I think every game will be a big one. The team that gets out of the gate fast and gets on top will be tough to catch."
Injuries are certain to be a factor along the way.
"It's going to be tough playing 48 games in however many days," Bolland said. "It's not like we're going out there to skate around like this. When we get out there guys are going to be hitting each other and sticking each other. It's just going to be different. It's not going to be easy."
Hossa was certainly helped by the lockout as he recovers from a serious concussion suffered on that nasty hit from the Coyotes' Raffi Torres in the playoffs.
Hossa skated with his teammates on Monday and looked terrific.
"It's been a long time since we hit the ice as a team," said Hossa, who was cleared medically to play only last month. "I've been skating on my own here for the last four or five weeks so that definitely is going to help me."
Hossa was always confident something would get done with the collective bargaining agreement and that there would be a season.
"I always felt there would be a season," Hossa said. "I got some offers from Europe and I told them I still believed we were going to get this done. I could not see another lockout without hockey. I truly believed we were going to play and here we are."
Hossa is hoping the fans return.
"I'm sure there are fans who are frustrated and you cannot blame them," Hossa said. "They are really involved and we are privileged to have them behind us. I'm sure there are going to be people upset, but we will do our best to bring them back in the stands."
Bolland thinks play could be ragged at first.
"It's going to take a few games for everybody to get back in the mode," Bolland said. "I think we're all just happy to be back to work and back on the ice. I've been on my couch watching Homeland and all those series."
As for Crawford and that pressure, he's ready for the challenge.
"I think guys are excited and ready to get going here," Crawford said. "This is fun. This is fun what we do. We've got a great team and I'm looking forward to what's coming up. I'm going to take it game by game and try to get into it quickly."