SUNRISE, Fla. — The month of February has been a busy one for the Blackhawks, to say the least.
The Blackhawks have played games in 14 of 29 days, 11 of which were on the road. And they were all over the map.
The Blackhawks started the month in Arizona, then made their way to Minnesota before returning to Chicago 24 hours later for the second of a back-to-back. They went on a five-game trip to Western Canada that started and ended in Winnipeg, with a back-to-back in Edmonton and Vancouver squeezed in-between. Then, they went back to Chicago for less than a week to play two home games before embarking on a four-game road trip that included Dallas, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Florida.
After Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers, the Blackhawks went straight to Chicago, where they will play 11 of their next 15 games. And they can't wait to have some consistency back in their schedule.
"Yeah, being at home for the majority of the next month is going to be big for us," Drake Caggiula, who scored his eighth goal of the season on Saturday, said. "It’s been a tough month in February just being away and it’ll be nice to have some stability at home, and being around your family and stuff like that, as well. We’re looking forward to going home and playing in our building, and having the home fans behind us and being around our families and stuff as well.”
Every team goes through their fair share of tough travel but this demanding schedule came at a crucial time for the Blackhawks. They won't use it as an excuse but you have to wonder how draining it was, both mentally and physically, to go through that kind of a stretch.
"I think the thing that would weigh on the guys is just we've fallen a little bit out of the picture based on the results, even though I think they're competing and they're playing hard," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Not so much the road games. We've shown we can win on the road and we've done that. Guys are competitive. They want to be playing big games and so that's what would weigh I them, I would think."
After back-to-back wins in Tampa Bay and Florida to wrap up the road trip, the Hawks can enjoy the plane ride home and day off on Sunday. Even though making the playoffs is a long shot, the Blackhawks will fight to the end.
"Absolutely," Jonathan Toews said when asked whether he believes the Blackhawks can still make a run. "I think our schedule is definitely favorable. So, take advantage of the rest when we can and try to play with energy. Try to be really good at home. The opportunity is there and we'll just take it one game at a time."
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