Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks’ Hossa Likely To Play Wednesday

By Colin Likas
Nov 20, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Amazingly, it’s been nearly a month since Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa was injured on a hip-check by Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm. It was a seemingly innocuous play, but Hossa went into the boards awkwardly and did not return to the game. Hossa and Marcus Kruger are the two pieces missing in the Blackhawks’ postseason puzzle, as the team will be at full strength when both of them return.

While Kruger still is slated to be sidelined for another month due to his broken wrist, it appears Hossa is going to return from his lower-body injury Wednesday against St. Louis.

Hossa has missed eight games, during which the Blackhawks have gone 5-3-0. The big talking point with Hossa out has been how his eventual return would affect the lineup, and we’re closer to seeing that become a reality. These were the lines at today’s morning skate.

Andrew LaddJonathan Toews-Marian Hossa

Artemi PanarinArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane

Andrew DesjardinsTeuvo TeravainenTomas Fleischmann

Brandon MashinterAndrew ShawDale Weise

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That top line is what Blackhawks fans have been waiting for since Ladd was acquired before the trade deadline. Toews hasn’t often had two legitimate threats on his wings this season, most recently playing with Ladd and Shaw. He previously lined up with Shaw and Hossa before Ladd came to town and before Hossa was hurt.

Ladd and Toews have worked pretty well together in the early going, with Ladd collecting three points in four games and Toews tallying a point in each game since Ladd’s acquisition. With Hossa added to the mix, the Blackhawks’ top line will be imposing and able to create tons of space for offensive action. On top of that, all three guys have no trouble finishing on scoring plays. Hossa may be a little rusty out of the gate, but the Blackhawks’ top line is close to being at its most dangerous point since the end of the 2015 postseason, when Brandon Saad was involved.

The second line, of course, will remain the same, while Joel Quenneville is opting to keep rolling with a third line that has shown a lot of cohesiveness in the early stages. That leaves Shaw, Weise and a rotation of Mashinter, Richard Panik and Dennis Rasmussen on the fourth — and Q said today he plans to rotate those last three in and out of the lineup. The only issue with the fourth line that was used at today’s morning skate is Shaw at center. We’ve all seen how that’s turned out, as Shaw struggles with his positioning on the ice, struggles to win faceoffs and becomes more of a defensive liability while at center. My preference would be to keep Rasmussen in to center Shaw and Weise, even though Panik probably offers more offensive upside than Rasmussen.

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There was one other talking point from today’s morning skate, as Duncan Keith was absent on the blue line. According to Lazerus, however, Keith is OK. He was probably just taking a maintenance day.

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