Blackhawks

Blackhawks

Beyond the three Stanley Cups won by Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, there's even more to worry about when facing the three Conn Smythe winners in a best-of-5 play-in series like the Oilers are set to under the NHL's 24-team playoff format. 

With Brent Seabrook likely out for the targeted July 10th training camp and the play-in series while he continues to recover from surgeries on both hips and his right shoulder, much of Edmonton's focus will be on the three remaining core members of the Hawks. 

It's the battles they fought and wars they waged on the way to glory and coming up short after getting so far in two Conference Finals. It's the plethora of minutes, learning from the situations that arose and the experience of repeatedly digging deeper than they knew they could.

"You look at Chicago, the thing that jumps out at you is the championship pedigree that they have in Toews and Kane and Keith," Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett said in a video conference call with media earlier this month. 

"They're top, top players. They're elite players, so you have to respect that. Respect where they've been, what they've done," Tippett said. "We're going to really concentrate on what we have to do to be successful, but you also know your opponent."

Hawks defenseman Connor Murphy, who joined the team ahead of the 2017-18 season is still in awe of the three core members he calls teammates, especially after catching some of their past postseason highlights during the NHL pause.

 

"One thing that's been cool over this break is a lot of the Hawks social media has been posting about the decade anniversary, the Hawks winning in 2010, even some of the playoff highlights from other Stanley Cups and stuff," Murphy said.

"It's amazing to just rewind to that and reflect on the guys we still have and what they've accomplished in (the) playoffs and that next level that they get to and thinking of the chance to play alongside these guys, what they can do and turn it on, having that mix."

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton thinks the pause, which began on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will work to the vets and Hawks' advantage for the play-in series. 

"I think they're going to be re-energized, being this close, being in this atmosphere of playing games that really mean something and I expect they're going to find a different level to their game and that's going to be a benefit to us as well."

Colliton also believes that Kane, Toews and Keith's experience and leadership can go a long way in helping prepare the rest of the squad for the meaningful games. 

"We got a handful of guys that have been there before so they can help," the coach said. "We got a very young group, who going through this, it's going to make them better and it's going to speed up our process of getting back to being an elite team. 

"The preparation that we'll go through in the training camp, I think it'll be very helpful. We have a team to play, we have a focus. Particularly, you don't have three weeks to get ready to play a playoff series. 

"When you have that long training camp, it can get mundane, it can get, it's not boring, but it's too much of a return. Whereas now, I think the guys will be excited and we'll have their attention and the quality of their preparation will be very good."



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