With early start time, Hawks eschew morning skate

Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 4:44 PM | Corey Masisak  - NHL.com Staff Writer

BEVERLEY HILLS, Calif. -- Hockey teams, and the players on them, are creatures of habit.

Players like to keep the same daily routine whenever possible. So Game 3 of the Western Conference Final will be a bit of a unique situation for the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks played in games on back-to-back days Saturday and Sunday. They did not practice Monday, because almost all teams do not after back-to-backs to conserve energy and heal.

But with Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings being a 6 p.m. local time start, the Blackhawks had a decision to make: Stick with their normal routine for 6 p.m. starts and not having a morning skate, or go on the ice at an abnormal time on a game day.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said it would be the former, so the Blackhawks will not go on the ice between Games 2 and 3, other than the pregame warm-up skate.

"Personally, I kind of like it," Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "It's nice. It's been a lot of hockey here. Back-to-back, obviously, and travel days. Personally, I don't mind it. Just try to be mentally ready when the puck drops. That's what it's all about at this point, I think."

The Blackhawks will again not have to face Kings center Mike Richards in Game 3. He missed Game 2 with an upper-body injury. Given that depth at center was expected to be an advantage for the Kings, his extended absence could be a problem for Los Angeles.

"He's a great two-way player," Chicago forward Michal Handzus said. "Their team is all about two-way guys. He has great offensive skills. He's very tough to play against on the defense also. He's a really great leader.

"I played with him when I was really young. You could already see his first year in the League, he was a leader already. He was kind of developing where he's going to be right now. But in saying that, you know, it's playoffs. They miss the guys. Other guys are going to step up. We don't look at it that it's going to be easy or anything like that. It's going to be way tougher, I think."

Chicago's projected lineup for Game 3:

Bryan Bickell - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane

Brandon Saad - Andrew Shaw - Viktor Stalberg

Marcus Kruger - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Ray Emery

Scratched: Brandon Bollig, Daniel Carcillo, Sheldon Brookbank, Jamal Mayers, Ben Smith, Ryan Stanton, Henrik Karlsson

Injured: None

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