Busy Blackhawks making the most out of the situation
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawks winger Marian Hossa (R) and center Jonathan Toews (C) celebrate with defenseman Duncan Keith (L) after Keith's goal in the first period gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 1-0 lead over take the Detroit Red Wings Sunday January 27, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
BLACKHAWKS at WILD
The facts: 7, NBCSN, 720-AM.
When the NHL’s compressed 48-game schedule was released, perhaps no team had more to complain about than the Blackhawks.
Six games in nine days to start — no team had more. A dozen back-to-back sets — no team had more. Ten of their first 12 games on the road — no team came close.
But what looked like a significant disadvantage might wind up giving the Hawks a significant head start on the rest of the league.
After starting 6-0, includ-
ing 4-0 on the road, the Hawks now embark on their longest road trip of the season — a six-game, 13-night trek that takes them to Minnesota, Vancouver, Calgary, San Jose, Phoenix and Nashville — while playing their hottest hockey. By the time they get back to Chicago on Feb. 11, the Hawks will have played nearly half their road schedule for the season. Win a handful of these, and they will be sitting pretty with hardly any travel for nearly a month.
‘‘It doesn’t hurt,’’ defense-
man Sheldon Brookbank said. ‘‘In a short season, you want to get out to a good start. Right now, we’re [off to] a pretty good start. But there’s a lot of hockey left to be played, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We’re just going to take it day by day.’’
So much so, in fact, that a few Hawks didn’t even know where they were going next in the aftermath of the team’s overtime victory Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings.
‘‘They probably never looked that much going into camp,’’ coach Joel Quenne-
ville said. ‘‘We know we’ve got to bring a passport.’’
This second phase of the schedule might be a little easier than the first — a little less manic, at least. After playing their first six games in nine days, these next six are spread out over 15 days. Still, Quenneville said he
expects to continue eschewing practice for rest. The Hawks’ 45-minute workout Tuesday at Johnny’s IceHouse West was their first since the season began.
‘‘We’re going to be busy,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘I think it’s good for the bonding, good for the chemistry of the guys.
‘‘When we looked at the beginning of our season, it was a tough deal to work with. But I think the guys have taken advantage of this time, and hopefully we can continue to build on this trip, as well.’’
When the Hawks return to Chicago, a quarter of the season will be over. So the ice-show trip might prove to be a defining stretch of the sprint season.
‘‘It’s going to be a really good test for us,’’ winger Marian Hossa said. ‘‘We’re pleased how we started, but this is going to be another great challenge. . . . When we come home after these six games, we’re going to really know where our team is.’’
NOTE: Coach Joel
Quenneville said defenseman Michal Rozsival, who has been a scratch the last two games, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury but should be on the ice for the morning skate Wednesday, meaning he will be available for the game against the Wild. Defenseman Sheldon Brookbank has been in the lineup in Rozsival’s absence.