Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks’ Andrew Ladd A Game-Time Decision

By Colin Likas
Mar 18, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd (16) watches the play during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Chicago Blackhawks win 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd (16) watches the play during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Chicago Blackhawks win 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith being sidelined for tonight’s opening game of a first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the St. Louis Blues meant the men in the Indian Head had a tough hill to climb to begin with. Now, it appears their trip to Scottrade Center may get even more difficult.

Andrew Ladd, who has served as the top-line left wing since being acquired from Winnipeg right before the trade deadline, is a game-time decision for tonight’s tilt. Thankfully he isn’t hurt or sick. His wife is actually about to have a child, and Ladd flew back to Chicago to be with her in the delivery room. In reality, Ladd’s chances of playing tonight depend almost entirely on how quickly his baby is born.

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If Ladd is unable to return to St. Louis in time for the game, Richard Panik will slot in on the top line. Panik has actually been playing pretty well of late, but he couldn’t crack the lineup over Brandon Mashinter, under Ladd left for Chicago. That would make the top line Panik, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, with the last of those three returning from a short injury-related absence.

Everyone else seems to be accounted for heading into the game, which sees the puck drop a little after 8:30 p.m. Hossa, Andrew Shaw and Artem Anisimov are all good to go after missing some regular-season time with injuries. Corey Crawford is also all systems go in net, with coach Joel Quenneville saying Monday following a practice that Crow looked as good as he’s seen in some time.

So, the lines look like this:

Richard Panik-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Brandon Mashinter-Teuvo TeravainenTomas Fleischmann

Andrew DesjardinsMarcus Kruger-Andrew Shaw

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As for the defensive pairings, obviously Keith will not be part of them. He will miss tonight’s game as a result of his six-game ban for high-sticking Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle. It’s the last game on his suspension. This means a lot of weight will be put on the shoulders of Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Rozsival. Trevor van Riemsdyk will almost certainly play, as no matter how much he struggles, Q insists on his presence in the lineup. Viktor Svedberg is apparently healthy after leaving Saturday’s game against Columbus. So that leaves Christian Ehrhoff and Erik Gustafsson, two puck-moving defensemen the Blackhawks could really use in the lineup tonight. Chances are, however, that we’ll only see one of the pair.

Though Ladd has had a bumpy time in Chicago since his return, his absence tonight would be a blow for the Blackhawks. Ladd is a big body capable of creating space and bouncing off hard St. Louis checks. He’d also be an important part of the powerplay against a potent Blues penalty kill. Hopefully Ladd is able to return in time for tonight’s game, but we obviously wish all the best to him, his wife and his arriving child. Family should come first, after all.

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