The Olympics are over. Some of us, myself included, hate that sentence. The Olympics are too fun and just being reminded that the best sports competition of any kind is over is too painful to hear. But now that it’s over, the Chicago Blackhawks‘ season is set to begin again and they can focus on what matters: the rest of the season and the playoffs.
Granted, things were a little sketchy for the Blackhawks. They were struggling for much of January, but began to pick things up in the early part of February. The front office made a move that they hoped would bring some depth for a potential playoff run once they begin. Of course, they also caused some speculation over the statuses of a couple of prospects.
The non-Olympians took some time off to go to Mexico, Hawaii or wherever. Heck, Brandon Pirri was named MVP of the AHL All-Star Classic. It’s likely that they’ll be fresh and ready to go for the next phase of the season.
Brandon Saad, Brandon Bollig and Brent Seabrook will be looking to continuing their successful season. As for Bryan Bickell, he’s hoping this break will allow him to get back into the groove he had in the 2013 playoffs. These guys deserved some rest and with 10 guys going overseas, it was a good opportunity to get a little rest. They should be more energized once the season resumes.
For the Olympians, they will have to come down from extraordinary highs and horrible lows. Particular attention should be paid to Patrick Kane. Now the puppy-eyed face of the USA‘s failures in Sochi, his goalless performance has drawn unwanted, unnecessary and flat-out wrong criticism that misses the bigger picture of the entire team’s collapse.
Regardless, Kane will have some difficult questions to answer as to whether or not he can rebound from such a rough, embarrassing and disheartening performance. Perhaps this could be incentive for him to go out and play out of his mind.
On the other hand, Canada‘s trio of Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp will doubtlessly be flying high. But getting past them, the Blackhawks’ Olympians will need to be ready once the season begins again. Thankfully, head coach Joel Quenneville has said he won’t press them too much.
Those of us who enjoy watching international competition will have to take some time getting used to club competition once again, but the players will have to do it much faster. The non-Olympians should be well-rested and eager to pick up the slack if the Olympians aren’t up to speed yet. Now comes the final stretch of the NHL season, and the Hawks should be ready to go.