Rest is good, but the Blackhawks are finally ready to face the Wild
CHICAGO – It’s a common and almost cliche debate when it comes to teams in the playoffs of any sport.
Is it good or bad to have a lot of time off between postseason series? Differing opinions are scattered across the landscape of professional leagues with everyone having their own philosophy on the subject.
The Blackhawks had this questioned posed to them on Friday just hours before their Stanley Cup Playoffs second round opener with the Wild at the United Center. It had been six days since they took the ice and had an uplifting and elimination victory over the Predators in Game 6 of their first round series.
When asked whether he liked having the time off, Bryan Bickell was one of those who took some middle ground on the issue of play versus rest.
“It’s nice,” said the Blackhawks left winger of the rest. “But it’s also nice to keep things going they’re going good and you get in the flow of games and get the feel. Too much rest is kinda hard at the same time I think everyone’s rested from the bumps and bruises of the last round.”
More than enough according to head coach Joel Quenneville. He can get a sense that his team is getting a bit anxious to start hitting the ice against the central division opponents and take another step towards a third Stanley Cup in five years.
"Our guys don't like practicing, they'd rather play games," said Quenneville when asked about if the six days off helped or hindered the team. "I thought the pace picked up today in practice. We had a couple of decent practices coming into today but the excitement is getting down and playing for keeps and getting this series started."
Minnesota's was in the same boat as they beat the Blues in Game 6 last Sunday to earn themselves a little bit of rest before the series with the Blackhawks. It's a highly anticipated match-up considering the teams have met the past two seasons and split the regular season series.
"We've been here waiting a while," said centerman Andrew Shaw. "We're energized, healed up, so we have no excuses tonight."
They won't have time to have them against a Wild team that has picked up momentum behind emerging goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who won allowed just two goals in the final two wins of the blues series. He helped to beat the Blackhawks in the final two regular season games and is one of the strongest goaltenders in the NHL as of late.
Not to mention the fact that Minnesota has some strong motivation having seen their season end at the hands of the Blackhawks the last two years. It's a lot of things for the Blackhawks to think about during this extended late April break.
"You make the best of it," said forward Patrick Sharp-who said he didn't think the previous meetings with the Wild had any bearing on this series. "Everybody this time of year just wants to keep playing hockey."
Whether waiting a while to do so will help the Blackhawks this season will be taken care of in a seven-game debate on the ice.