The Chicago Blackhawks look to start their season up with a bang.
The task that awaits them will not be an easy one. The start of this shortened season is expected to be sometime in the next two weeks, which means that 'Hawks players need to be in game shape and ready to go.
With such a shortened season in the works, games will be squeezed together, more back-to-back games will be played. 'Hawks players will have to brace themselves for what will be a physically strenuous season.
Though, even with a daunting season ahead, 'Hawks players expressed joy that a season was going to happen.
Captain Jonathan Toews said that he was happy to get back to the game after three long months (via Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune):
I'm excited to play hockey again, although it's bittersweet because a lot of damage was done to our game. As players we need to keep showing out fans we care. We might have a long road ahead of us there but for now it's great to know we'll be back on the ice very soon.
The start of the Blackhawks season doesn't look to be very favorable. While no official schedule has been released yet, other factors will dictate where the Blackhawks start off their season.
Disney On Ice is expected to take over the United Center between January 30 to February 10. The Blackhawks will be on the road for two straight weeks to start off the season—that's roughly eight to nine games away from the UC.
Shortened schedules also welcome injuries, which could impact some of the Blackhawks key players.
Marian Hossa seems to be doing well after suffering a season-ending concussion in last season's playoffs. Any small hit to the head could bring back symptoms and sideline him for a significant amount of time.
Same could be said for Toews, who just recently fully recovered from symptoms related to a concussion he suffered late last season.
Will the players who decided not to go play overseas need some time to get their legs going?
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will be expected to take the majority of ice time once again. If they fail to play up to their potential, the 'Hawks may very well miss the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.
Not to get too far ahead, but the start of this shortened season may very well dictate how the Blackhawks play down the stretch.
All remains to be seen but one thing is for certain: the Chicago Blackhawks are back ready to play some hockey.
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