Call it a hunch, but the Blackhawks might decide to sleep in Thursday morning.
The Hawks’ 4-3 win against the Boston Bruins required three overtimes and more than 103 minutes of ice time Wednesday at the United Center. The game finally ended in the Hawks’ favor when Andrew Shaw scored on a double deflection.
Hawks players jumped off of the bench and lifted their sticks in gratitude to the fans who stayed until midnight – almost five hours after the puck dropped – to see the game-winning goal. Many players hunched over in exhaustion before they departed the ice and headed to the locker room.
Here’s a look at which Hawks players might have been the most tired.
• Duncan Keith: 48 minutes, 40 seconds of ice time
• Niklas Hjalmarsson: 39 minutes, 38 seconds
• Brent Seabrook: 39 minutes, 12 seconds
• Patrick Kane: 37 minutes, 49 seconds
• Johnny Oduya: 37 minutes, 20 seconds
• Jonathan Toews: 36 minutes, 24 seconds
The Hawks will not have practice Thursday. They’ll be back on the ice Friday in preparation for Game 2 on Saturday evening at the United Center.
Sheldon Brookbank has been a spectator since the Blackhawks' playoffs started April 30.
Today, the Hawks' veteran defenseman finally will have a chance to lace up his skates.
Brookbank, 32, will replace teammate Duncan Keith on the blue line as Keith serves a one-game suspension for his high stick against Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter. Meanwhile, the Hawks will try to win Game 4 against the Kings at the Staples Center and increase their 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference finals.
Although Brookbank has not played since April 27, he has plenty of experience in physical Western Conference games. He has appeared in 303 career regular-season games and 17 career playoff games since he entered the league during the 2006-07 season.
Brookbank lacks Keith's speed and passing ability, but he is a tough-minded defenseman who likely will be asked to kill penalties and clear Kings players from the front of the Hawks net. But he will need to be careful to avoid the penalty box, having accumulated 32 penalty minutes in 17 playoff games with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Hawks are 6-5 in Game 4s with head coach Joel Quenneville behind the bench. Tonight's game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. CT., and it will air on NBC Sports Network and WGN-AM 720.
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was suspended one game by the NHL for his high-sticking penalty in Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings.
"This is a retaliatory high stick to an opponent that causes an injury," said Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice president of player safety, in announcing the suspension.
Keith had a hearing with the NHL on Wednesday morning regarding his high stick that cut the face of Kings forward Jeff Carter. The play, in which Keith retaliated to Carter's swipe at his hand, occurred far from the puck and left Carter bloodied. Carter required 20 stitches to repair his cut.
The NHL did not announce the news until several hours after the Hawks practiced at the Staples Center. There, Keith practiced along with his teammates in preparation for Game 4.
"In the middle of the process, it's tough to comment on it," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
However, it was much easier for the Hawks to comment on their respect level for Keith.
"Everyone has tons of respect," Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford said. "He plays the game the right way.
"Maybe [the media] should look at the two slashes Carter threw at his hand right before that. He took a couple shots at him. Obviously you can’t hit a guy in the face, but it [included] some pretty vicious slashes right before that."
Minus Keith, the Hawks likely will activate defenseman Sheldon Brookbank for the first time during the postseason.
If demeanor is worth anything, the Blackhawks seemed relaxed and ready heading into Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Hawks participated in their morning skate Wednesday at the United Center, where players and coaches reported no problems with the ice surface one day after the Rolling Stones' first of three concerts at the building.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he liked what he saw from his players, who erased a 3-1 series deficit against the Wings to force the 11th Game 7 in franchise history.
"Just watching our group out here today and yesterday, I think we haven’t changed at all over the last four or five days here," Quenneville said. "I think it’s been consistent.
"We’re excited. I think we’re looking forward to it. You’ve got to commend them on their approach."
As for which players might shine in Game 7, Quenneville said, members of both teams' third and fourth lines could make the difference.
"Sometimes, it’s the guys that maybe fly under the radar," Quenneville said. "When you get a little less freedom – top guys get a lot of scrutiny and a lot of tight coverage – sometimes those guys seem to come through and break through.
"But every game is different. Scoring is going to be hard to come by, and there’s not many scoring chances in games, but usually you get the unexpected guys that jump up."
Joel Quenneville deflected all of the credit Friday after learning that he was a finalist for the NHL's coach of the year award.
The three finalists for the prize, which is named the Jack Adams Award, were Quenneville, Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks and Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators. The winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup Final series.
Quenneville said he was grateful for the recognition but he was not the main reason for the team's success.
"The players deserve the credit," Quenneville said.
OK, maybe, but Quenneville has done his part, as well. He led the Hawks to the best record during the regular season, including a 24-game point streak to start the year.
Quenneville said it was clear from the start of the season that his players were ready to make another run at a Stanley Cup title. He coached the Hawks to a championship during the 2009-10 season but did not win the Jack Adams Award that season.
"You’ve got to commend them from the start of the season, the way they prepared themselves," Quenneville said. "The consistency. The way they competed. The predictability in their game.
"It was fun to be a part of it. You look back on certain seasons. The fun factor this year working with this group is over-the-top. It was a special regular season."
Only one coach in Hawks history has won the Jack Adams Award. Orval Tessier was named as the league's best coach during the 1982-83 season.
Meanwhile, the playoffs continue with Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals set for Saturday. The Hawks lead the series, 1-0, against the Detroit Red Wings.
After a pair of internships at The Sporting News and The Denver Post, Tom started at the Northwest Herald in June 2003. He has won many important awards, mostly in the field of thermonuclear medicine. He is always happy to talk about sports.