Greetings from Chicago, where weather reports are calling for thunderstorms later Tuesday. That's spring in the Midwest.
The Blackhawks skated first at the United Center, and the big news -- such as it was -- centered on the possibly imminent return of forward Andrew Shaw from a leg injury. He was hurt during the opener of the Blackhawks' second-round series against Minnesota but said Tuesday he's ready to play Wednesday in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals if Coach Joel Quenneville restores him to the lineup.
"I'm getting prepared like I'm going to play tomorrow, but like I say, it's not my final decision," Shaw said.
Shaw is known for being an agitator and for being chatty on the ice and off, which keeps his teammates amused.
"We'd said when he was out of the lineup the first few days there was some peace and quiet," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It felt kind of nice for once but we're glad to have him back. He's bouncing off the walls again. He's got tons of energy. It's always good to have a guy like that."
On a more serious note, Toews was asked if the Blackhawks might become overconfident against the Kings after winning eight of the teams' last nine games. That includes Chicago's five-game Western Conference final victory over the Kings last spring, a sweep of their three regular-season games, and Chicago's 3-1 victory Sunday.
The answer from the man nicknamed Captain Serious: not a chance.
"Whether we have winning records against certain teams we play against in the regular season, if we have a chance to play them in the playoffs, we've always done a good job of disregarding the past," Toews said. "Because we really know what it means. It doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot. So the same goes for this series.
"What happened last year is last year. What happened this season really is meaningless. It was a tough first game, and we're expecting it to be even tougher tomorrow. That's all that really matters: Who's the better team tomorrow."