DENVER – The Blackhawks gathered together at the University of Denver, practicing for about 45 minutes, a lengthy amount of time for them.
It won’t be fully evident until tomorrow night, when the Blackhawks face the Colorado Avalanche, if they’re re-energized off the All-Star break. But for most, it looked like the break served them well.
Even Patrick Kane, who was at the NHL All-Star festivities this weekend in Nashville said he feels refreshed. It was a bit of a surprise to see Kane practicing on Monday; those playing in the All-Star game usually sit the first practice out.
“I feel really good, surprisingly good,” Kane said. “It was good for me to get out there, practice with the team, get the body moving. Even though you’re in the All-Star game and skills competition, there’s still a lot of sitting around, standing around, waiting for things to happen. It felt good out there in practice. Hopefully it translates over tomorrow.”
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Andrew Shaw, who spent the break skiing in Colorado, said he should feel a little more energetic going into these final 29 regular-season games.
“Yeah this is honestly my favorite part of the year,” said Shaw. “You start seeing games remaining and getting closer and closer to playoff time. It’s always fun to try to see the team make the late pushes, and it should be entertaining second half of the season.”
The Blackhawks will start this portion of the season without Jonathan Toews; the captain missed the All-Star weekend due to illness, but is suspended one game nonetheless per NHL rules. Coach Joel Quenneville said Toews is “progressing” from his illness. Toews didn’t make the trip to Colorado; he’ll meet the team in Arizona.
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Michal Rozsival, who did not practice (lower body), is also questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Avalanche. Duncan Keith also did not practice but he will play against the Avalanche. Corey Crawford is expected to start.
The Blackhawks got through the first 53 games well, despite losing three of their last four going into the break. Schedule-wise, this latter portion of the schedule won’t be nearly as grueling. It will nevertheless be a wild ride to the end of the regular season, and the Blackhawks are hoping they’re re-energized for it.
“We got through that grind. We did well in the last two months, as well,” Shaw said. “We’ve got to use that and stay fully energized and let the body heal up and get prepared for playoffs.”