Three games into the season, and Joel Quenneville already is scoreboard-watching. Heck, in a 48-game season, teams already are entering the stretch run and jockeying for playoff position. It's already a playoff race.
"That's what it's like, it's basically what it feels like," the Blackhawks coach said at Thursday's morning skate in Dallas. "You're looking at the standings, your division, your conference, the upcoming games, their games, where they are before they play you. It's almost like we're at that point, the halfway point of the season, and we have the remainder to position yourself to get in. I'm sure everybody feels the same way that are involved in these games. It's going to be fun being a part of it."
Quenneville said he's been watching games at home on TV and on his computer, keeping track of the standings and sweating out every shootout, knowing every point will be crucial.
"Every game is meaningful," he said. "You watch the pace of these games, and it seems like it's a playoff race already. The intensity is amazing, the players seem to be very competitive, [they] seem to be conditioned, as well, there's not a lot of time between games, [and] the next game is just as big as the previous game. They just keep getting bigger as we go along here."
Three down, 45 to go. It's already the home stretch.
"It's a short season," Patrick Sharp said. "You want to gather as many points as you can, and so far, so good."