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Toews misses Hawks practice, but expected to play

by Derek Jory
VANCOUVER: The road trip continues. After eliminating Calgary Monday night, the Chicago Blackhawks stayed overnight, then flew to Vancouver Tuesday. Chicago took to the ice Wednesday for the first time since its Game 6 series-winner.

The upstart Blackhawks looked nothing like you'd expect following a gritty first-round series. One day off was apparently all the team needed before setting its sights on the Vancouver Canucks.

Conspicuously absent from Chicago's practice was team captain Jonathan Toews, who turned 21 on Wednesday.

The fact that Toews missed practice on his birthday was nothing more than a coincidence, according to Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. He said that Toews was "resting," and "should be available [Thursday] night."

When prodded for a little more information, Quenneville added "He should be ready and raring to go tomorrow," and that the Hawks are "more than expecting him to play."

Defenseman Matt Walker was the only other Chicago player who didn't skate; he's also expected to dress for Game 1.

The Blackhawks haven't had much time to dissect their next opponent, but defenseman Brian Campbell is confident that if his team can perform on special teams the way it did against the Flames, that they'll be heading home for Game 3 with at least one win.

"I think it was really important not only that we won the series, but that we won on the road, which was a good test for us." -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Chicago's first round victory over the Flames
"It's a huge factor," said Campbell. "We were disciplined in the first round and we'll have to be again in this series because special teams will tell the tale.

"It's all about just being able to adapt throughout a series, that's probably the biggest thing we did well against Calgary because we didn't score a power play goal in Game 1, but we learned off what the other team was doing and adjusted. It's all about who can adapt the best and the quickest."

Quenneville was quick to point out the experience his team gained in the first round will be invaluable against the Canucks. In particular, he noted the way the Blackhawks finished off their first series win in 13 years.

"I think it was really important not only that we won the series, but that we won on the road, which was a good test for us," he said.

"I think we got a lot of valuable lessons, it was a good test, it was a tough series, it was physically challenging. I think it was a good education for a lot of our guys."

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