The Hawks’ core players have pretty much played more games than any other group over the last seven years. Every break from hockey they can get is helpful, but especially now when the team seems to have lost its legs.
This team has been through a lot already this season. They’ve had to figure out how to play with new faces seemingly everywhere. They’ve had the Patrick Kane point streak that lingered in the back of their minds for more than a month. Then of course they had the most recent win streak in which they broke the franchise record. Though these are positive things, it still takes a lot out of players mentally. Especially considering they all happened in the first half of the year.
The Hawks looked atrocious last night. That’s as bad as they’ve played in a very long time. The Hurricanes at times looked like they had six guys on the ice. Toews, Keith, Seabrook, and the other core players looked as though they hadn’t played hockey in three years. The young guys looked…well, like young guys.
However, you have to remember that this is a team full of champions. They know how to win and when to win. They’ve proven over and over again that they have a “switch” that allows them to play like champs when they need to. But even champs need a rest.
The Hawks will reset their minds for a couple days and force out thoughts of the first half’s streaks and successes. They will come back with a focus on the playoffs and another Stanley Cup run. Like the Spurs in recent years, the Hawks have been great about not worrying too much about the regular season. Quenneville with undoubtedly be shuffling young players and old veterans like Rozsival and Scuderi in and out of the lineup to determine which players give them the best shot to repeat as Cup winners. This will result in more growing pains. But for now, it’s time to reset.