One hundred and forty-two days.
That's how long it's been since an NHL game that counted graced our television screens before the league shut down because of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Blackhawks have known since May 26 that they will be playing the Edmonton Oilers in a five-game play-in series for a chance to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That was more than two months ago.
Phase 2 of voluntary workouts began on June 8. Phase 3 of formal training camps opened on July 13. The Blackhawks had won 4-0 in their one and only exhibition game against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.
The final checkpoint is on Saturday afternoon: Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. And the Blackhawks are itching to get after it.
"We're excited," head coach Jeremy Colliton said in a video conference call on Friday. "We've done the work, done the preparation and I think the guys have gotten better and better as we've gone here. Nice to get a game in there on Wednesday. Now it's just, let's get going."
All 12 Western Conference teams are inside the Edmonton bubble together, which has made for an interesting experience. Players spent the first few days catching up with one another and enjoying the amenities, such as cornhole and golf simulators.
But the feeling will be different on Saturday. It's time to lock in for the postseason.
"The atmosphere is going to change around here a little bit once the play-in games and the playoffs really start," Calvin de Haan said. "The intensity is going to climb up a little bit. It's going to be all business at that standpoint, and it'll be fun. We're here, we're going to do our best to try to win a Stanley Cup."