KANATA, Ontario Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa experienced the pressure-free side of hockey this weekend at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. It was fun, it was silly, it was the polar opposite of intense.
Well, the (All-Star) party is over.
As Kane and Hossa trek back to Chicago Sunday night, their minds get back on the regular-season task at hand: the Blackhawks face a nine-game road trip right out of the break, beginning with the always intense game against Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
Did we mention the light-hearted party is officially over?
Its tough to go from a weekend like this to going right to Vancouver tomorrow. But its exciting, Kane said before heading back home, albeit briefly. Weve got 32 games until the playoffs. Were still fighting for a spot, fighting for a good one in the conference and just trying to have a good end to the season.
Theyre also trying to get back on the winning side after dropping two in a row to the Nashville Predators right before the break. The Blackhawks could have their full slate of players on Tuesday, or at least one of them. General manager Stan Bowman said Friday that Jonathan Toews is still targeted to return against the Canucks. Patrick Sharps status for that game is uncertain right now.
Itll also be the Blackhawks debut for Brendan Morrison, who was acquired from the Calgary Flames on Friday night. Morrison is certainly familiar with the Vancouver Canucks, having played eight seasons with them. Former teammate Henrik Sedin said the Blackhawks have a good one in the veteran center.
Hes a veteran guy who can play in a lot of different situations: power play, (penalty kill), hes good in the faceoff circle and hes great in the room, Sedin said. He does a lot of different things. I thought it was a good pickup.
If nothing else, the Blackhawks will be rested for this odyssey. Duncan Keith said prior to the break that taking care of themselves these past few days was important.
Youve got to get away a little bit, but this is all about getting rest and making sure were ready for the last 32 games, Keith said. You have to rest up, get strong and make sure were taking care of ourselves and feeling good when we come back.
Well, the Blackhawks are just about back. Theyll get tested right out of the gate, but this is what stretch-run hockey is all about: intensity, readiness and dealing with the pressure.
The break is officially over.