|ESPN.com: NHL Playoffs 2010||[Print without images]|
CHICAGO -- For the first time under coach Joel Quenneville, the Chicago Blackhawks will stay at a local hotel before they take the ice against the San Jose Sharks for Game 3 of their Western Conference finals on Friday.
After their morning practice on Friday, the Hawks will check in to a hotel for their pregame nap and meal. After an NHL-record seven consecutive road wins, and just a 3-3 home playoff record, it's not a coincidence they are trying to replicate some of their road routine.
"Yeah, it's a little change," Hawks veteran Brent Sopel said. "But it's not anything we're not used to. We just came off the road for two weeks."
Sopel said he has stayed at hotels at home during the playoffs with other teams over the years, as has John Madden.
"I've done it my whole career," said Madden, in his first season with the Hawks after 10 seasons with the New Jersey Devils. "In New Jersey, we actually stayed the night before and then game day. I think it's a good thing. The guys were up for it, and we wanted it so we're doing it for the afternoon [on Friday]."
The Hawks decided gameday was enough. Part of the reason was to stay away from distractions.
"Obviously, at this time of year, you have a lot of hype and stuff," Sopel said. "Everybody is calling, trying to come in and so if you can separate from that a little bit for a couple hours in the afternoon, that's a good thing."
As captain, Jonathan Toews had a voice in the decision and was all for it.
"We just think it's a good thing," Toews said. "We're going to do little things like that. Just to keep our focus and energy where it needs to be."
Quenneville thought trying something different at home might help the team break out at home.
"I've been on teams that have done both scenarios," Quenneville said. "We'll try to change it up a little bit, but certainly the focus is on how we play on the ice."
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com.