ANAHEIM, Calif. — Hockey players are creatures of habit. They like their routines, they like playing every other day. They don’t like those extra days off.
Well, maybe right now they don’t mind it so much.
After playing games every other day up to this point, the Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks got an extra day to prep for Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. In a series that’s been dramatic, has featured a couple of overtimes and has had plenty of travel for both teams, the rare extra day is a bonus.
“Yeah, I would say so,” Corey Crawford said. “It's been a pretty intense series so far. With travel, it just adds a little more. To get that extra day, I mean, it's good for the speed of the game.”
Players have put in the extra minutes with these games, especially the Blackhawks defensemen. But the speed doesn’t look like it’s diminished much in this series. It was certainly evident on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks played their best game of the series, taking a 5-2 victory to force Game 7.
The Blackhawks have also taken plenty of hits from the Ducks. While they don’t look worse for wear at the moment, it doesn’t hurt to get another day’s worth of healing.
“Take the rest as you can get it,” Patrick Sharp said. “We had a lot of travel this series back and forth for both teams, clearly. But we’ve got a big game coming up. We'll take the extra day, get focused and be physically ready.”
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Usually we’d ask if this could slow a team’s momentum down, specifically the Blackhawks. But this is Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, not some random regular-season game coming out of a break. The enormity of the situation isn’t lost on the Blackhawks. The energy will be there. Thanks to an extra day off, perhaps there will be just a little bit more in the tank.
“Halfway through the series were some of the long games. At this point were pretty excited,” Jonathan Toews said. “We’d love the chance to go out there and play [Friday night] but we’ll just prepare as much as we can. We’ll take advantage of the day off in that regard. At the end of the day, there will be a lot of excitement, a lot of energy. We’re looking forward to getting after it.”