Even on a roll, Blackhawks looking forward to bye-week break

SHARE Even on a roll, Blackhawks looking forward to bye-week break
blackhawks_oilers_hockey_66988937.jpg

Blackhawks forward Richard Panik (14) celebrates with teammates Brent Seabrook (7) and Gustav Forsling (42) after scoring in the first period of the Hawks’ 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night at Rogers Place in Edmonton. (Canadian Press via AP)

Brent Seabrook is going to Disney World. Jonathan Toews is going to kick back but also work out. Vinnie Hinostroza, Tanner Kero, Nick Schmaltz and Gustav Forsling are going to Rockford to play more hockey.

Though the NHL-mandated — and NHL Players’ Association-negotiated — bye week threatens to short-circuit the Blackhawks’ momentum after they routed the Edmonton Oilers 5-1 on Saturday to conclude a six-game road trip with five consecutive victories, the team has no choice but to make the most of it and hope it will help them in the long term.

‘‘It is what it is,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘We’ll see. Our guys have played a lot of hockey, and the guys who went to the All-Star Game didn’t get much of a break. So hopefully everybody gets away and comes back refreshed and trying to recapture this feeling we’ve got right now.’’

On at least one level, the Hawks could use the break — something Toews recognized last week. Few players know the value of pacing oneself through a season like Toews does. So even with the Hawks on a roll, he was looking forward to the break.

‘‘We’ve played a ton of hockey in December and January and leading up to this break, so I think it’s something we’ll definitely take advantage of,’’ he said.

The break might affect the Hawks’ momentum in the short term — NHL teams so far are 15-5-0 in their final game heading into the bye week and 3-7-1 in their first game out of it — but it figures to be beneficial with 25 games left in the regular season. The Hawks have the big picture in mind.

‘‘It might be a little weird when you’re going to bed at night and turn on ‘SportsCenter,’ and there’s a bunch of hockey games going on [while] I’m in Orlando at Disney World with my kids,’’ Seabrook said. ‘‘It is what it is. I’m going to take the break and enjoy it and try to get as much rest as I can — as much rest as I can chasing kids around Disney World.’’

And the break can’t obscure the fact that the Hawks have been playing their best hockey of the season during their five-game winning streak. Quenneville said he was most impressed with their ‘‘overall balance’’ — all four lines have contributed at different times in the streak — and better puck possession.

‘‘Definitely, [this is] our best over this stretch of games,’’ Quenneville said.

In general, the Hawks have been at their best this season with little time between games. They are 27-10-3 with one or no days between games and 8-7-2 with two or more days between games. But in the big picture, the bye week offers a chance to rest for the stretch run and, as Toews put it, ‘‘just pour it on heading into the playoffs.’’

It’s a physical and mental break, Toews said.

‘‘Getting a break helps you physically, whether it’s bumps and bruises or you need to get in the gym and work on some stuff that’s hard to do when you’re playing every other day for a couple of months,’’ he said. ‘‘And sometimes it’s good to get your mind off the game a little bit and come back and be hungry. You play better when you’re really, really excited to be at the rink.’’

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

The Latest
Bakhtiari Tweeted that he woke up Friday thinking he’d strained his abdomen, mentioned it to his team doctor and was soon in surgery.
Sunday against the Jets, Montgomery ran for 79 yards, his second-highest total this season, on 14 carries.
His U.S. squad will face the Netherlands on Saturday in the World Cup round-of-16 match, putting them a step away from the quarterfinals.
Falling behind in education jeopardizes the future competitiveness of the region and country, especially in STEM fields where the U.S. already lags some other nations.
Although the shops have been replaced by restaurants and university offices, with a little imagination one can see the proprietors sweeping in front as they prepare for another day.