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Rookies Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen hoping to scratch postseason itch

Updated: May 16, 2012 8:27AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Most of their teammates had already left the rink to return to their hotel.

But almost 40 minutes after nearly all the Blackhawks were done with the morning skate Saturday before Game 2
of their first-round playoff series, defenseman Dylan Olsen and forward Jimmy Hayes remained on the ice at Arena.

The rookies weren’t going to face the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday and were scratched for Game 1. But Olsen and Hayes, along with the other Hawks scratches, were pushing themselves and putting in the extra work should they get an opportunity.

“You always got to be ready,” said the 22-year-old Hayes. “You have to make sure you’re mentally ready, and physically you want to push the pace a little bit when you do the extra work, so if you get in a game you’re not behind the playoff pace the other guys are at.”

Olsen and Hayes say experiencing the playoffs — even from the sideline — has been an education.

“Just being here, just being with the boys every day, seeing the intensity and focus that they have for the playoffs, it’s totally different than the regular season,” Olsen said.

Said Hayes: “The entire atmosphere is pretty amazing. You get to learn from guys that have been there and watch how guys prepare that play a big role.”

Hayes had seven points in his first 10 NHL games while getting time as a top-six forward before dropping on the depth chart late in the season.

Olsen played in 26 consecutive games starting
Feb. 10 after his second call-up of the season. But coach Joel Quenneville opted to sit the 21-year-old defenseman the final two games before the playoffs and has given the nod in Games 1 and 2 to veterans Sean O’Donnell and Sami Lepisto.

“We might not be playing, but we’re learning a lot for next year or maybe later in the playoffs in case we’re needed,” Olsen said. 

It’s that second part Olsen and Hayes are hoping for.

Both are eager for their first taste of the playoffs, and that incentive drives them to push themselves.

“The Stanley Cup is on the line. That’s your motivation right there,” Olsen said. “You can’t afford to be goofing around just because you might not play the next day. You got to take it like you’re playing every night. You can’t afford to get sick or do anything stupid at this time. It’s time focus, it’s time to go.”

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