TAMPA, Fla. -- The Chicago Blackhawks conserve their energy in the playoffs, so they don't spend much time practicing or skating in the morning on the day of games. As is their custom, it was just a quick few minutes on and off today in Amalie Arena prior to Game One of the Stanley Cup final.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will remain linemates to start the series, like they finished the Western Conference final. (Here's the link to today's column on Kane).
"It's tough to forecast longterm on that but the last two games they were so good together, it's tough to get them apart right now," Quenneville said. "We'll see how the game goes matchups wise. There's some balance if you get them apart but together it's pretty dynamic the last two games."
Quenneville's big revelation during his media session was that rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk should play in this series after being out since April due to wrist surgery. The Hawks, of course, are pretty much down to four useful defensemen, with 40-year-old trade deadline pickup Kimmo Timonen again a healthy scratch.
"He came to training camp and surprised us all with how well he played and how well he thought the game and how effective and efficient he is," Quenneville said of van Riemsdyk. "We've been watching him skate in practice every day and his reads and how he plays positionally and decision-making with the puck. He's got a lot of attributes that can help our team."
As for the players, the visiting dressing room here is, shall we say, quaint. It's fine when you're covering the Sabres with only a half-dozen or so media folks in tow. For this, it's like covering a World Series in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park: You pretty much can't move.
Only a handful of Hawks were available to the media, notably former Tampa Bay Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards.
"This is great, it's special coming back where it all started," said Richards, a standout on the '04 champions. "I spent a lot of my adult life here, won a Stanley Cup here. I have a lot of friends here. It's neat to come back, try to win another one.
"Coming here and seeing this culture and how professional these guys are, it's easy to get on board and follow them."