Banged-up Blackhawks using break to rest up before March marathon

CHICAGO - The core of the Blackhawks dynasty has logged a lot of miles over the past seven years.

It's paid off to the tune of three Stanley Cup championships.

But, if they want to raise another banner, rest will be key.

"We have a really busy schedule. The whole league does through the month of March and early April," noted head coach Joel Quenneville. "It's going to be competitive, as well. Lot to be sorted out between now and then. I like the fact that we have eight defensemen that can all play. We've got four lines, right now, that are rolling. We've got some guys that are getting some consideration to play that can play up front, as well. It's as deep as we've been. We'll have some tough decisions to make in some games."

On Thursday, the Hawks host the Sharks to start their final 31-day stretch of the season, during which they'll play 17 games.

In the meantime, the roster is using the four-day break to heal up.

Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Corey Crawford and Marian Hossa all had the day off.

Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Schmaltz and Johnny Oduya skated again, though.

Hjalmarsson hasn't been active since February 23rd, but Quenneville thinks there's a 'good chance' both he and Oduya will be good to go by Thursday.

Scott Darling's understudy, Jeff Glass, got his first practice reps at Johnny's Icehouse and the difference in skill coming at him was plain to see.

"There's no doubt about it, these guys are good hockey players. They know how to shoot the puck," Glass smiled. "For me, it's just been a lot of fun to be out there everyday and taking shots from these guys. Like I said, I'm just here to help the team anyway I can."

Darling is slated to be out three weeks, so Glass could see some time in the net.

"There’s a couple back-to-backs that you can consider, but we’ll see," noted Quenneville.