On Wednesday the Chicago Blackhawks announced that Jonathan Toews was being shut down and yet he would be 100% along with injured star Patrick Kane when the playoffs kick off on April 16th. Quenneville when asked if he worried that the two players especially Kane would be rusty he proclaimed they wouldn’t be rusty but they would be fresh and rejuvenated for the playoffs. That sounds fantastic in theory but if you look back to 2012 when Jonathan Toews returned from injury after missing the final 23 games he did score on his first shot and he made a spectacular one on one move and goal in overtime of Game #5, but there were times when you could see some rust in his play. That being said the coach knows his troops better than anyone so here is my question for the final 6 games of the season.
With the playoff spot secured is it time to shut down the other veterans of the team until the playoffs begin especially without 19 & 88 out on the ice. Is it time for Quenneville and Bowman to shut down Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Michal Handzus until the games really matter in late April?
Hossa is the biggest concern for me because even though he hasn’t missed a game this season because of it yet, his back is a major worry. The Hawks looked totally lost in Game #3 of the Stanley Cup Finals without him (although Ben Smith must thank him daily for getting his name on the Cup) and in the Phoenix series when Torres took Hossa out the Hawks only won one game after the injury. Hossa could take on more leadership and responsibility without 19 & 88 on the ice which could lead to over extending himself.
Sharp has had a great season and has skated hard from day one to first get an Olympic roster spot and then to help lead the Hawks in scoring. Sharp isn’t old but he is 32 and last season was stuck with some injuries during the shortened 2013 season. Sharp and Hossa in between Teravainen is a Blackhawks fans dream, and yet having a fresh Sharp for the playoffs and not getting dinged in the final 6 games could be a decision the Hawks brass needs to make.
Lastly, Michal Handzus is a trusted veteran of Quenneville yet he didn’t play in the third period of the Pittsburgh game when Toews was injured. The news was the Handzus was benched not injured but one would think he isn’t 100% right now. Handzus is a PK guy and face off specialist and someone who could be used in spots anywhere from the 2nd line all the way to the fourth line during the playoffs so even if I’m not a huge fan of Handzus having him healthy and ready for the grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs and sitting him for the final 6 should be a thought going through Stan and Joel’s heads.
Let the youth show what they have and who will step up and lead in the final 6 games, and let the veterans rest up and rejuvenate for the 16 win trip they need to make starting April 16!
What do you think? Should the Veterans play or get shut down?
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