It has been a while since the Chicago Blackhawks last played an actual game — a full week, in fact, as of Thursday.
The ability to rest up after sweeping a team, like Chicago did to Minnesota in the second round, can be beneficiary during the grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Players can get away and relax for just a little bit, and those dealing with injuries are afforded a little extra time to heal up.
But when the Blackhawks play the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday, it will be 10 days in between games for Chicago.
That’s a lengthy layoff, and has led Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville to turn to battle drills and scrimmages in order to at least try and simulate a game, as per CSN Chicago.
“It’s one of those things you can’t do,” Andrew Shaw told CSN Chicago. “A game is totally different, pace is always faster, more physical. [Do a] couple battle drills, some quick scrimmages to get the pace going, keep the legs fresh.”
The Erie Otters trail the Oshawa Generals 3-1 in the Ontario Hockey League final, with Game 5 in Oshawa on Friday, but Connor McDavid believes the series will extend back to Erie.
McDavid, who is likely to be taken first overall in next month’s NHL Draft, recorded four points in Game 4 on Wednesday, but the Otters lost in overtime and are now facing elimination and the possibility of not qualifying for the 2015 Memorial Cup.
Given that it appears McDavid will make the step to the NHL next season, Wednesday’s loss could’ve been his last game in Erie.
Well, he doesn’t feel that way.
“It’s not my last game here in Erie,” said McDavid, according to video on the Erie Times-News website.
“Obviously the fans were good here (Wednesday) again. They’ve always been the best fans in the league for three years now so I look forward to coming back to them on Sunday.”
He went on to add, according to video from Sportsnet.ca: “Obviously being down 3-1 isn’t the position you want to be in, but many teams have done it and we’re going to do it.”
In 19 post-season games this spring, McDavid has 21 goals and 49 points to lead the OHL. He’s been good.
Earlier this week, he became the sixth youngest player in OHL history to win the league’s Player of the Year award.
If there is a Game 6 between the Otters and Generals, it is scheduled for Sunday.
Corey Perry watch continues.
The L.A. Times reported on Thursday that Perry missed another Anaheim Ducks practice, however head coach Bruce Boudreau reiterated the point that he expects the veteran forward and playoff points leader to be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
Perry was hurt on a collision involving Calgary Flames forward Matt Stajan in Game 5 of that second round series.
“We have six days off, there’s no sense rushing him, I’m pretty sure he’ll be back on the ice [Friday],” Boudreau told the L.A. Times. “I have no indication that he’s not [going to be able to play].”
Nathan MacKinnon’s offensive numbers were down. His season ended prematurely with a broken foot at the beginning of March. The Colorado Avalanche regressed. One of the most dynamic young players in the game experienced the full impact of the dreaded sophomore slump.
After capturing the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 2013-14, when he scored 24 goals and 63 points during the regular season, the 19-year-old MacKinnon scored only 14 goals and 38 points this season.
Meanwhile, Colorado missed the playoffs, finishing 11th in the Western Conference.
“The whole team was kind of in a slump,” MacKinnon told The Chronicle Herald in Halifax.
“We weren’t playing well and we weren’t scoring. Things started going better for me but then I got hurt so it was kind of the perfect storm. But at the same time, I didn’t play well and do the things out there I think I can.
“It’s one season and sometimes it can be tough when it’s not going the way you want it to, but I try to stay as positive as I can. I’m pretty hard on myself so I’m already looking ahead to trying to prove to myself that I can be an impact player on our team.”
MacKinnon is currently with Canada’s world hockey championship team in the Czech Republic. He’s producing at a point-per-game rate, with three goals and five assists in eight games.
All season long, the Calgary Flames have defied the doubters. However, their surprising run could be reaching its end, now trailing the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 in this second round series.
On Friday, mistakes and an undisciplined penalty were the Flames’ undoing in a loss to the Ducks. Matt Beleskey scored the winner on a power play early in the third period of Game 4.
The Ducks can clinch a spot in the Western Conference final with a win on Sunday in Game 5.
Including the Stanley Cup Playoffs and regular season, the Ducks have won 21 straight games at Honda Center against the Flames dating to Game 3 of their first-round playoff series in 2006.
“It’s playoffs. You never know what’s going to happen,” Beleskey said. “We love going home. We love playing in front of our home fans, but I don’t think that whole streak thing matters at this point. It’s Game 5 of the playoffs. We need a big effort.”
Throughout the regular season, and even into these playoffs, the Flames provided numerous thrilling comebacks, and they will try to rely on that experience in this situation.
“We’ve just gotta believe,” said Flames forward Mikael Backlund, as per the Calgary Sun. “We’ve won three games in a row before, so we can do it again.
“The whole season, we’ve been coming back from some really tough mountains and we always seem to find a way to climb up on the top. This group never stops, just battles every day. Our work ethic and our character in this room is going to take us through these next couple of games.”