Stadium Series game vs. Penguins another peculiarity for Blackhawks
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter February 27, 2014 9:53PM
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) defends as the puck sails away from New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61) with Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) looking on in the second period of an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) ORG XMIT: OTKKW107
Updated: February 28, 2014 2:29AM
NEW YORK — The Blackhawks are used to the spotlight and special occasions and overcoming oddities of the NHL schedule. But some of them are looking forward to just playing hockey again. Probably all of them are.
After a six-game ‘‘ice show’’ road trip and a 20-day break for the Olympics, the Hawks resumed the regular season Thursday night against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. They play the Penguins in a nationally televised Stadium Series game at Soldier Field on Saturday night.
When they face the Avalanche on Tuesday, it’ll be their first game at the United Center in 36 days. They will have played one real home game in the last six weeks.
‘‘I’m just looking forward to having some normal NHL hockey,’’ defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. ‘‘We’ve been in Sochi [Russia] for a while. Coming back, there is so much attention on anything. I just want to have a normal season going.’’
Still, Hjalmarsson is looking forward to the outdoor game. He was in the minor leagues when the Hawks played the Red Wings at Wrigley Field in 2009.
‘‘I’m really going to enjoy the game,’’ Hjalmarsson said. ‘‘I know the fans are going to love it. I think it’s going to be another fun experience.’’
The virtual certainty of frigid temperatures as well as the possibility of wind and snow could make the outdoor game problematic for both teams.
‘‘It’s tough to really handicap that going into it,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘I would say as players, they probably are excited about the opportunity to play in the snow.
‘‘Pittsburgh might have a little more experience than us. It definitely brings back some memories as a kid, being outside playing in the snow.
‘‘It’s tough to say what you would do differently [if it snows]. I would say, try to keep it a little simpler in the snow, but it could make it a lot of fun.’’