Blackhawks want to come out of bye week flying
Three wins. Nine losses. Two overtime losses.
That is how the 14 NHL teams fared in their first game back coming out of their bye week.
It's a fact that the Blackhawks are well aware of, and they will try their darndest to avoid tacking another loss onto that statistic Saturday night when Edmonton comes to town.
"Teams are having a little bit of a hiccup coming out of it," said coach Joel Quenneville after putting his team through a high-paced practice at the United Center on Friday. "I still think there's some goodwill that's down the road that you can take advantage of it. It's to measure right now.
"I thought we had a good skate today, and we'll see how it goes tomorrow."
In the final game before the break, the Hawks - playing on back-to-back nights no less - pummeled the Oilers 5-1 after Edmonton completed its own bye week. Edmonton, though, won its next two games over Arizona and Philadelphia by a combined 11-5 score.
So what's the key to breaking this lose-the-first-game-after-your-bye-week trend?
"Make sure that we're taking short shifts and keeping as high a pace as we can," said Duncan Keith. "I haven't really paid attention to what other teams have done, but we know that Edmonton is playing well right now - they played good last game (a 6-3 victory over the Flyers on Thursday). It's going to be a tough game.
"We know how it went last game against them, so they're going to be ready."
Keith, Ryan Hartman, Scott Darling and Brian Campbell didn't go anywhere during the five-day break, but Quenneville (Vail), Patrick Kane, Trevor van Riemsdyk (Mexico) and Corey Crawford (Salt Lake City) all got away.
Crawford said he did not do any skiing, while Kane said he relaxed, did some yoga, and got in a few workouts. Kane said he liked how practice went Friday and believes the Hawks will be ready to go.
Quenneville, meanwhile, did admit that goalies might have a tough time picking up where they left off.
"Some guys stand on their head when they come out of it and some may need a little while to get their feet under them," Quenneville said. "Tough to forecast that, but I would say that's probably the one area you might keep an eye on."
Joel Quenneville said the decision to keep Vinnie Hinostroza and Gustav Forsling in Rockford was part business, part hockey. "In the past I can remember shuttling guys up and down (between) here (and) Rockford between practices and game days sometimes for the business side of things," Quenneville said. "No promises, but they play well and we expect them to be a part of it."
Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers at United Center, 6 p.m. Saturday
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WGN 720-AM
The skinny: In the game before their bye week, the Blackhawks beat Edmonton 5-1 on goals by Richard Panik (2), Patrick Kane, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Artem Anisimov. The Oilers won their next two games - 5-2 over Arizona and 6-3 over Philadelphia. … Going into Friday's games, Connor McDavid continues to lead the league in scoring with 66 points (18 goals). Patrick Kane (58) was in a tie for fifth. … Goalie Cam Talbot (29-16-7, .920 save pct., 2.37 GAA) has started 15 of the last 16 games for the Oilers. … Corey Crawford (22-12-3, .918, 2.57) starts for the Hawks.
Next: Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center, 5 p.m. Sunday
- John Dietz