By Chris Emma-
CHICAGO (CBS) — While the NHL hasn’t made it official, Blackhawks players and coach Joel Quenneville have said Game 1 of Western Conference Final against the Ducks will be played in Anaheim on Sunday.
“We’ll try to find a way to be mentally prepared going into Sunday,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said.
Chicago last played last Thursday in Minnnesota, finishing off a sweep of the Wild. The Ducks dispatched the Calgary Flames by winning Game 5 on Sunday night, ending that conference semifinal. But the Eastern Conference semifinals have dragged into this week, with Tampa Bay advancing on Tuesday night and the Rangers hosting the Capitals for a Game 7 in New York on Wednesday night.
In Chicago, Quenneville is attempting to prepare his Blackhawks for Sunday’s game, running a fast-paced practice at Johnny’s IceHouse on Wednesday that lasted more than an hour — much longer than the usual skate that is designed to keep legs fresh.
“Ten days between games is a long stretch,” Quenneville said, looking ahead to Sunday. “You want to make sure you try different things and make sure you’re stimulated coming into it as well. We try to simulate as much game situation as we can and try to get the pace to be game situation and work off of that.”
Quenneville has maintained the same lines since the start of the series with Minnesota. The only difference now from Game 4 in Minnesota is David Rundblad being plugged in a pairing with Duncan Keith, replacing Michal Rozsival, who underwent surgery for his fractured left ankle on Tuesday.
Given the Sunday Game 1 and assumed schedule, it’s likely the Blackhawks will next play on home ice next Thursday at the United Center, which would mark an 18-day layoff from their last contest in Chicago, a Game 2 win over the Wild on May 3.
An official announcement of the Western Conference Final schedule is expected from the NHL soon.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.