After the long five day break since their last game, the Blackhawks are ready to get back to business this Sunday against Calgary. Though it is one of their longest breaks this season, players and coaches feel that they’ve stayed focused despite the time off.
“It’s pretty easy [to get back into the swing of things],” said forward Patrick Sharp
. “The guys were anxious to get out there. A lot of guys were out on the ice early after a day off. We’re looking forward to the game Sunday; it’s been too long without a game.”
“It’s tough to get a week off at the start of the season,” said defenseman Brent Seabrook
. “I think it was good; we all sat back and relaxed. Today, we came to work and we worked hard.”
Many off the Hawks players took advantage of the day off from practice on Thursday. Beginning Sunday, they play four home games in the next eight days, followed by a two-week, six-game road trip to close out the month.
“It (the break) helps us mentally probably more than physically, to get away from the rink and not think about hockey for a while,” said defenseman Brian Campbell. “It’s been good for us and we have to be ready for a stretch that we need to do well in.”
Head Coach Joel Quenneville said that he saw his team reenergized and focused after giving them the day off.
“It’s a long time off -- it’s a tricky week,” he said. “Usually you come off a day off and you have a sluggish start to the practice. But I thought we had great jump right from the outset.”
“Joel’s done a great job keeping the competitive edge up,” said Sharp. “We’re looking forward to the weekend.”
Here Come the Flames
The Hawks continue their homestand Sunday night against the Flames, which features the return of former Hawks Rene Bourque, Jim Vandermeer and Adrian Aucoin.
“It’s fun; they’re great guys,” said Seabrook. “You wish they were still your teammates. But that’s the game. It’s going to be fun to get back out there and play against them.”
The team knows the overall skill Calgary possesses, and the discipline and intensity that they play with in every game. The Flames have scored the fourth-most goals in the league this season.
“They play a different style than a lot of teams in the league play,” said Campbell, whose San Jose team beat Calgary in seven games during last year's playoffs. “They come after you. They force you hard in all areas of the ice. Sometimes you have more time in certain areas, but they really come at you in all areas.”
The defense is also getting ready to face one of the top offensive players in the game; Jarome Iginla.
“You’ve got to be aware with him on the ice,” said Quenneville. “He’s a threat one-on-one, he’s got a big shot and he’s one of those power forward who uses his strength and positioning to his advantage.”
“He’s a tough player to defend,” said Campbell. “It’s probably going to take both groups, Cam [Barker] and I [Duncan] Keith and Seabrook to defend.”
This will be the Hawks and Flames' first meeting this season; they split their series last season, with each team winning once at home and once on the road.