Brian Campbell was just fine with the Christmas break approaching. As hectic as the holiday season can be, for the NHL, it’s a three-day opportunity to rest, heal and catch one’s breath. The über-busy Blackhawks will take it.
“We’re a little fatigued and obviously [have] a couple of guys out,” Campbell said. “There have been a lot of games. You feel you should be going every night but definitely, these three days are going to help. Get some rest and get ready to go for another stretch.”
Chicago isn’t the only team that’s busy. World Cup, coupled with bye weeks which will be implemented early in the new year, have condensed the NHL schedule this season. Still, the Blackhawks have been very busy over the last month or so. Six of their final Circus Trips came in over a nine-day period. From Dec. 9-20 they played nine more games.
They’ve also dealt with injuries. The Blackhawks have 70 man games lost thus far this season. Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov are still out. So between those who are nursing injuries and those who have buoyed the Blackhawks in their absence, the break comes at a great time.
For Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford, the break probably isn’t as welcomed. Toews has only been back for six games and scored his first goal since Nov. 6 on Friday night. Crawford returned on Friday night and played a tremendous game. But they understand that healthier teammates are feeling the fatigue.
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“I have no excuse, I had a nice break of my own. I've been enjoying playing hockey and being back with the group. But I can only imagine since we've been home from the road trip, feels like these guys have been playing every other night, pretty much,” Toews said. “There's no doubt that the guys will take advantage of it."
The Blackhawks are one of seven teams that have already played 36 games. Of the teams that played that 36th game, only two teams won (Winnipeg and Calgary, each of whom beat Vancouver on Thursday and Friday, respectively). The others (Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Boston and Edmonton) went a combined 0-2-3. Not the most scientific stat but a stat nonetheless.
Coach Joel Quenneville reminded us on Friday that, “everybody’s got the same deal” regarding the schedule. Still, he recognizes it’s been a busy time. The Blackhawks have fared well throughout it – they enter the break atop the Western Conference – and will be just as occupied when it ends (four games in a week, starting on Tuesday). Mentally, physically, we all need a break sometimes. The Blackhawks have been working hard and often. The holiday respite is a welcomed one.
“Three days away will be good for everybody,” Quenneville said. “We have some guys who have played a lot of hockey and it’s nice when you don’t have to come to the rink and put your skates on. Get away and spend time with your families, maybe turn the channel a little bit and enjoy Christmas.”