Will The Extra Rest Help Or Hurt The Chicago Blackhawks?

By Skylar Peters

The Chicago Blackhawks found themselves in an unfamiliar position.

Though they have had arguably, the most post-season success out of anyone in the past half-decade, the Blackhawks always seem to make it hard on themselves. More often than not, the Blackhawks usually take six or seven games to close out a series. Sometimes, it’s the Blackhawks themselves that find themselves behind early on, but battle back to do that.

If that is considered the norm for the Blackhawks, their most recent series was anything but.

The Blackhawks took down the Minnesota Wild in four games, and though the Wild advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs may have been a surprise in it’s own after defeating the Central Division Champion St. Louis Blues, many expected the series between the Blackhawks and Wild to go the distance.

Now, already four days removed from their Game Four victory, the Blackhawks are still several nights away from kicking off their Western Conference Final series against the Anaheim Ducks, who advanced by way of a Game Five win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.

While both teams sit idle, waiting for the Eastern Conference picture to clear up, the Blackhawks find themselves in the midst of an extended rest break. For Chicago, this doesn’t happen often; it’s their first sweep since the 2010 Western Conference Final, when the ‘Hawks defeated the San Jose Sharks in four straight.

After advancing to the Stanley Cup Final on May 22nd, the Blackhawks found their opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers, the very next night. However, with Stanley Cup Final preparations, the show didn’t get underway until May 29th.

The Blackhawks looked good despite the six days of rest, scoring six goals in their Game One victory over the Flyers. The only signs of rust may have been on Antti Niemi, who surrendered five goals on 32 shots despite the win.

The Blackhawks also had home-ice advantage in that series, as the Flyers had the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

They won’t have that luxury this year, as the 3rd-seeded Blackhawks take on the top team in the West. So far through these playoffs, both teams have been perfect in their own rinks, posting 5-0 records.

Nothing is certain when looking ahead to potential scheduling for the Conference Finals, but an educated guess would be that the Blackhawks travel to Anaheim mid-week, and could kick off the series on Thursday or Friday night, depending on the Montreal Canadiens forcing a Game Seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a win tomorrow night.

Aside from the two-week hiatus last season for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the seven or eight days off will be the Blackhawks’ longest break since the 2010 Playoffs.

It turned out pretty well back then.

For Chicago, the challenge will be to keep everyone healthy and sharp, especially on the back-end. After Michal Rozsival went down with an ankle injury in Game Four, and is likely ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, the Blackhawks will be relying heavily upon the likes of Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya, and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Corey Crawford will have to maintain his competitive fire in goal, and the Blackhawks’ offense will have to remain razor-sharp if they want to outdo that of the Ducks’ in the series.

What do you think? Will the rest be a good or bad thing for the ‘Hawks? Let us know in the comment section below!

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