Blackhawks will take all the rest they can get


Blackhawks will take all the rest they can get

The playoffs, the “second season” as we like to call it, can come with a busy schedule.

There are the games, some of which go into overtime(s). There’s the travel. There’s the physical wear and tear, which only increases with each passing game. It’s a grind, and one that usually doesn’t come with much time to relax.

For the Blackhawks, however, that rare rest is here once again. Thanks to their 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, which gave them a four-game series sweep in the second round, the Blackhawks can kick back, relax and watch Calgary and Anaheim knock each other around a while longer.

[MORE HAWKS: Five things from Blackhawks-Wild Game 4]

“Yeah, we’ll see when the other series close out,” Corey Crawford said. “But I’m sure we’ll get at least a good week, I would say.”

Indeed, since the NHL will wait to begin the Eastern and Western Conference Finals until all second-round series are complete, the Blackhawks should get some ample time to recover. They had six days between when they eliminated the Nashville Predators to when they opened their series vs. the Wild. How much that helped, who knows; it certainly didn’t hurt. Whether it’s the Flames or the Ducks, the Blackhawks will face a much more physical series than they have to this point. So they’ll take the rest.

“Yeah, heal up some bumps and bruises and watch some games, scout the team that we might be playing,” Patrick Sharp said. “It’s a good series going on over there [between Anaheim and Calgary]. Anytime you can take a few days and rest it’s a positive this time of year and hopefully we’ll be ready for Game 1.”

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks sweep Wild, move on to Western Conference Final]

That rest will probably benefit the Blackhawks’ defensemen the most. The team’s top four has logged strong minutes already – Duncan Keith is averaging a team-high 30 minutes, 37 seconds per game. And the top defensemen's minutes will likely go up now that Michal Rozsival’s status is official: he fractured his ankle in the second period on Thursday night, will need surgery and is out the rest of this postseason.

No matter who gets installed in the lineup to replace Rozsival – David Rundblad, Kyle Cumiskey and Michael Paliotta are available right now – the new guy may not hit the ground running. Also, keep in mind that Kimmo Timonen has played every game but sparingly, so Timonen has to play more or someone has to take those extra minutes, too.

“That group for the most part has played some significant minutes we’ll see how it all turns out and works out,” Quenneville said. “But a couple of days off here will be nice and we’ll see what happens.”

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The Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference Finals a lot faster than most expected. They’ll get a break, one that could be critical at this time of year.

“We’ll watch the other series and get ready for whoever we are playing next,” Patrick Kane said. “I think we have a couple days off here, so take advantage of the rest and make sure we are primed and ready for Game 1 in the conference finals.”

Calvin de Haan on unexpected trade to Blackhawks and what he brings to the table

Calvin de Haan on unexpected trade to Blackhawks and what he brings to the table

Calvin de Haan knew that the Carolina Hurricanes had a logjam on defense going into this summer and that somebody was going to be dealt to create a spot. The move was also driven by financial reasons as the Hurricanes look to re-sign a handful of players, most notably Sebastian Aho.

He just wasn't expecting it to be his name on the move.

"I'm still kind of in shock, to be honest," de Haan said on Tuesday's conference call. "I didn’t think it was going to be me. After Carolina signed me last summer my fiancée and I thought we were going to have some roots there, but I get it, it’s a business. Looking back on it now, it’s only been 16 hours or whatever, but it’s been a whirlwind. I’m really looking forward to it now. Obviously Stan [Bowman] and the Blackhawks made a deal for me and I feel like I’m wanted and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity with this organization."

De Haan, who signed a four-year, $18.2 million contract with Carolina last offseason, admitted that the Blackhawks didn't show any interest in him when he was an unrestricted free agent. But he's excited about being in an organization that values his services, and the feeling is mutual because he's filling an immediate need on the back end for the Blackhawks: a player who can log big minutes, is a sound stay-at-home defenseman and can play an effective role on the penalty kill.

Jeremy Colliton, who was the captain for the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers during de Haan's rookie season in the pros from 2011-12, will certainly appreciate what his former teammate brings to the table.

"I just like to think my position’s good," de Haan said of his game. "I like to think I move well on the ice. I’ve always tried to play a simple game. I saw some tweets yesterday that I might be the next best thing to Nik Hjalmarsson that the Blackhawks have had in a while, so that’s a compliment. That guy’s had a great career and that’s a player I like to play like. Nothing flashy, just kind of get the job done and I hope Blackhawk fans will really appreciate my game. It’s something I’m really looking forward to this season."  

De Haan underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in May — exactly five weeks from Tuesday — and was given a four-to-six month timeline, putting his availability for training camp and the season opener in jeopardy. But he's hoping to be cleared by the time training camp rolls around in September and be ready to go for the season opener on Oct. 4 in Prague.

"Things are progressing well," de Haan said. "I like to think I’m ahead of schedule. I’ve had shoulder surgeries in the past as well where I know how this goes and I’m gonna make sure I’m ready for camp. Then it’s going to be up to the training staff and the doctors whether they want me to play or take a few weeks here and there and just progress slowly. But my main goal is to be ready for camp. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines. I want to be on the ice with the guys and out there grinding away and try to get the team back in the playoffs."

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Blackhawks release 2019-20 schedule: Notes and five games to circle


Blackhawks release 2019-20 schedule: Notes and five games to circle

The Stanley Cup Final is over. The NHL Draft is in the books. Free agency still looms, but Chicago can officially start looking ahead to next season.

The Blackhawks, in conjunction with the rest of the league, released their 2019-20 schedule on Tuesday so it's time to get out the sharpie and mark your calendars. 

Some quick notes:

— The Blackhawks' longest homestand of the season is seven games, from Oct. 10-24. They also have a five-game homestand from March 22-31.

— The longest road trip of the season is five games, from Feb. 9-16. They also have two four-game road trips from Oct. 29-Nov. 5 and Feb. 23-Feb. 29.

— The Blackhawks have 16 back-to-back games. They had 14 last season.

— Single-game tickets for the team's regular-season home games will go on sale Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 12 p.m. on The Blackhawks are currently accepting deposits for groups, 21-Game Mikita Plans and 9-Game Hull Plans. Any fans interested can visit or call 312-455-7000.

— NBC Sports Chicago is now the exclusive carrier for all local game broadcasts. The complete broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.

Here are five dates to circle for the 2019-20 season, in order of how they appear on the schedule:

1. Friday, Oct. 4 at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. — Season opener in Prague

As part of the 2019 NHL Global Series, the Blackhawks play an exhibition game in Berlin on Sept. 29 before heading to Prague, where they will kick off the regular season against the Philadelphia Flyers. It's the first time the Blackhawks are beginning a season overseas since the 2009-10 campaign when they were in Helsinki, Finland. They went on to win the Stanley Cup that season.

2. Thursday, Oct. 10 vs. San Jose, 7:30 p.m. — Home opener

After a five-day break to get reacclimated to the North American time zone, the Blackhawks will take the ice at the United Center for the first time against the Erik Karlsson-led Sharks on Oct. 10. The Blackhawks are 5-2-1 in their last eight home openers.

3. Monday, Dec. 2 vs. St. Louis, 7:30 p.m. — First look at defending Stanley Cup champions

The Blackhawks-Blues rivalry has always felt a little one-sided, but that's not the case anymore. The Blues ended a 52-year championship drought by defeating the Boston Bruins and planted their mark in the Central Division as the team to beat. Expect there to be a little more juice to this rivalry as the Blues look to keep their flag planted in the ground and the Blackhawks aim to make their presence felt within the division again.

4. Tuesday, Jan. 21 vs. Florida, 7:30 p.m. — Joel Quenneville's return to Chicago

This is the game everyone is waiting for. It will be the first time Chicago will get a chance to welcome Quenneville back to Chicago after he helped bring the city three Stanley Cups, and became the second-winningest NHL coach of all-time in the process. 

What could make this game even more interesting: If former Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin joins Quenneville's team in South Florida this summer. The Blackhawks will make their visit to Florida on Saturday, Feb. 29 for a 5 p.m. puck drop.

5. Saturday, April 4 at N.Y. Rangers, 12 p.m. — Closing out at The Garden

For the first time in a while, the Blackhawks will be wrapping up the season on the east coast. And there could be some real playoff implications at stake here, for both teams. The iconic Madison Square Garden isn't a bad place to end things off.

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