Blackhawks believe momentum can carry through long break
CHICAGO – At the time there was no official announcement of a schedule for the Western Conference Finals, but the Blackhawks might have received a bit of inside information.
After their workout and Johnny’s Icehouse West on Wednesday a number of the players said Sunday in their answers from reporters to questions about their match-up with the Ducks.
Indeed a few reports came out later in the day that Sunday afternoon would finally be the beginning of the Conference Finals at the Honda Center. Nothing official has come from the league as of 6 P.M. Wednesday night.
While it couldn’t be sensed in their voices there is likely a bit of impatience from the Blackhawks as they continue to process the match-up with the Ducks for the right to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s been ten days since they held off the Wild late in Game 4 to finish off a second round sweep in Minnesota and an amount of time that could squelch some of the significant momentum the Blackhawks have had in these playoffs.
Don’t think Joel Quenneville doesn’t understand that.
“It’s definitely a factor. In games, between games, going into series” said Quenneville of momentum. “I would say we’re probably both at that same stage where you get some momentum going, you feel good about the win.”
Both teams have a lot of reasons to feel good about themselves, perhaps enough to last over the long layoff. The Blackhawks have won six-of-their-last-seven games dating back to the first round against Nashville. In that stretch the offense has been strong with the team scoring four goals in all but one of their five-straight wins going back to the Game 6 triumph over the Predators.
Anaheim has had similar success and a bit better record in the playoffs than the Blackhawks as they've won all but one of their nine games so far in series wins over Winnipeg and Calgary.
Maybe that's while Quenneville had the Blackhawks on the ice for over an hour on Wednesday which was one of the team's longest practices of the season.
"Ten days between games is a long stretch and you want to make sure that you try different things to make sure you're stimulated coming into as well," said Quenneville. "We try to simulate as many game situations as we can, try to get the pace to be game situational and try to work off that.
It's not that the Blackhawks are upset about having a little bit of rest and in this playoffs it hasn't affected them a lot. A six-day layoff after the Predators series didn't hurt the team as they swept the Wild quickly out of the playoffs.
"Find a way to be mentally prepared going into Sunday and work hard out on the ice," said Jonathan Toews on his approach to the ten days off. "Take advantage of the time off anyway we can but I don't think we're gonna sit back and relax too much.
"I think today was a good skate, a good practice day and we kinda know the drill now and what's going to happen. We're just gonna figure out the best way to prepare ourselves for Game 1."
Whenever it might finally happen.