The long and grinding 82-game season seems to finally be taking its toll on the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago had stayed mostly injury free during the past several seasons. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have been outstandingly durable during their careers, and the worst the Blackhawks would generally have to deal with was Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp missing their typical handful of games each year.
Toews’ injury is seemingly not of the long-term variety, an enormous boon for Chicago especially in light of the timing. Kane will by all accounts be healthy and ready to play in the first game of the postseason, but it seems probable that he’ll need some time to shake off the rust and regain his normal level of confidence and on-ice effectiveness.
Bryan Bickell has also been out of the lineup for an extended period. CSN’s Tracey Myers has reported that he may be back for Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
NHL hockey is a war of attrition, and the Blackhawks are experiencing firsthand after managing to hold it off for a long while. Toews and Kane will all but assuredly not be quite themselves during the first round of the playoffs, where Chicago will likely face the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado will be without a key player of its own for most or all of the series, having just lost Matt Duchene to a knee injury for four weeks.
It will be interesting to see how the Blackhawks handle their first bit of injury-related adversity in several seasons. Thus far, it has gone rather disastrously.