The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t getting any healthier just yet, but things could change for their road trip
Each passing game for the Chicago Blackhawks, fans are hopeful the team can get a little closer to full strength. With captain and top-line center Jonathan Toews, starting goaltender Corey Crawford and top-three defenseman Brent Seabrook all sidelined, it’s a prudent hope.
It doesn’t look like any of those three will be good to go tonight against the Dallas Stars, however. The early-day media scrum produced news that Seabrook was “unlikely” for tonight’s final piece of a four-game homestand, while Toews is definitely out. Crow is still recovering from his appendectomy.
On the positive side, however, Toews skated today and looked alright doing so.
The Blackhawks will be hitting the road after tonight’s game for a three-game trip through New York (Rangers and Islanders) and St. Louis. While Seabrook is making the trip and could possibly play in all three games, it looks like Toews might be joining for the ride.
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If Toews does indeed join the team on this road trip, you’d have to assume he plays at least one game. The Blackhawks would welcome him back with open arms, as even though Toews wasn’t crazy effective offensively prior to his injury, Chicago’s offense has really taken a dive of late with the star center sidelined.
Notes on the opponent
Injuries are certainly the name of the sad game in Chicago right now, but Dallas has seen its fair share.
Everyone hoping to see Patrick Sharp make another return to the United Center will be sorely disappointed tonight, as Sharp is in concussion protocol for the second time this season. Soon to be 35 years old, Sharp was part of a dominant top line last season with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Now he can’t stay on the ice.
Also out is offseason acquisition Jiri Hudler, who is going to miss a good chunk of time after undergoing hip surgery.
Another familiar face to Blackhawks fans, defenseman Johnny Oduya, has not played since Nov. 19. He has a lower body injury, though he could suit up tonight in the Madhouse.
Other injuries for the Stars are to Ales Hemsky, Mattias Janmark and Julius Honka. So a team that had an extremely deep forward corps last season is now decimated, resorting to a fourth line of Curtis McKenzie, Devin Shore and Adam Cracknell.
Dallas has struggled due to all these injuries, plus generally iffy goaltending that has plagued the team before. The Stars currently sit two points out of the second wild card and ahead of just Vancouver, Arizona and Colorado in the West standings.
Things have gotten so rough that coach Lindy Ruff actually benched star defenseman John Klingberg in a recent game. Considering how talented of a playmaker this guy is, I’m sure what kind of message Ruff was trying to send. But it isn’t getting through.
Notes on the host
The Blackhawks do have a couple other items worth noting heading into tonight’s game. Defenseman Michal Kempny continues to be in coach Joel Quenneville‘s doghouse, for whatever reason, and will be a healthy scratch.
Just as with the Rangers on Friday, the Blackhawks will attempt to roll out slow-footed Trevor van Riemsdyk and Michal Rozsival against a group of generally speedy forwards. It didn’t wind up hurting the Blackhawks against New York, but that doesn’t mean you’re required to try it again.
Another item of note has nothing to do with the on-ice product. Former one-day backup goaltender Eric Semborski has been invited by the Chicago Blackhawks to tonight’s game. He’ll be a guest of the team, not suiting up to play. Pretty cool gesture.
The Blackhawks could use two points tonight, as the Blues have a game in hand and sit just two points behind Chicago in the Central. St. Louis is traveling to Minnesota tonight, decent news for the Blackhawks since the Blues are 4-7-1 on the road this season.