The Blackhawks have had several days’ worth of practice and plenty of time to heal any bumps and bruises accumulated in the first round.
Enough talk: let’s get this second-round series going.
The wait is over for the Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild, who meet in Game 1 at 8:45 p.m. tonight at the United Center. It’s been a lengthy wait for both teams; the Blackhawks eliminated the Nashville Predators on Saturday and the Wild did the same to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon.
So you can imagine everyone’s really ready to get going again.
“For sure, the guys are excited,” Andrew Shaw said. “Two days in practice, two days off just amp up the guys to get ready for this one. We expect a good team coming in here.”
The Wild play a steady game that begs an opponent to be patient. It can be frustrating to bide your time but that’s what the Blackhawks are going to have to do to be successful.
“Trying to make plays, sometimes, you’re giving up the juicier opportunity the other way,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Trying to manufacture plays that aren’t there leads to trouble. But knowing when they do have the puck there are a lot of options, and that’s one of the strengths of our team as well.”
The Wild come into this series, the third consecutive postseason one against the Blackhawks, brimming with confidence. They’ve overcome a lot to get to this point. But coach Mike Yeo said the Wild, who have yet to win a postseason game at the United Center, still have much to prove against the Blackhawks.
“There are a lot of reasons for optimism, a lot of reasons to feel confident. But we also know what we’re up against,” Yeo said. “The last several months we’ve been at it pretty good and we’ve had to be at our best but the bottom line is, until we prove something’s different, then nothing’s changed. We have to change something here along the way.”