CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins sent 17 players combined to the Olympic Games in Sochi. Last weekend, nine of them played in either the bronze medal or gold medal games. They both resumed their schedules on Thursday with losses, then met Saturday night at Soldier Field in an NHL Stadium Series game.
Both teams would like for life to get back to normal.
Hockey players are creatures of habit, so this week for the Blackhawks and Penguins players has been anything but normal. Neither side had a full practice until mid-week, once their Olympians all returned. Then after losses on Thursday night they flew to Chicago for practice at Soldier Field, and to be met by the increased media presence that comes with these NHL outdoor games.
While the Blackhawks rebounded from a loss to the New York Rangers, the Penguins dropped their second straight in not-so-pretty fashion.
“A lot of the first games back weren't the prettiest games around the league,” said Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. “Then you step right into a game where you're outdoors in the elements. So, yes, we'll look to regroup and get back and maybe get back to some normalcy, and we're going to have to do it going on the road for some tough games coming up.”
The Penguins will continue on this five-game road trip to Nashville before two games in California. The routine of the road is something they’ll certainly look forward to getting back to after a hectic week.
For the Blackhawks, their 5-1 win over the Penguins was the beginning of a short three-game homestand. For many of them, it will be just like the previous three weeks during the Olympics; but for those players who were over in Sochi, the luxuries of home have been sorely missed.
“It will be nice to go home, relax, see the family, check in with my kids,” said Patrick Sharp.
“I think they've got their driver's license by now, I haven't seen them in so long."
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