The Chicago Blackhawks made corresponding moves today involving two of their top-six forwards
Injuries will not stop plaguing key Chicago Blackhawks players, it seems. After the team’s three day holiday break, which ends tonight with a tilt against the visiting Winnipeg Jets, the Blackhawks made corresponding roster moves with two key forwards.
Marian Hossa, who missed Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche with an upper-body injury, was placed in injured reserve Tuesday. At the same time, the Blackhawks pulled center Artem Anisimov off injured reserve.
Hossa is projected to return in time for the Jan. 2 Winter Classic game against the St. Louis Blues. That would keep him down the final three games of 2016 — tonight against Winnipeg, Thursday against Nashville and Friday against Carolina.
Hossa has had a resurgence this season after struggling last year. His 16 goals leads the team, and he has 23 points overall, good for fifth among the Blackhawks.
Chicago is used to dealing with a missing Hossa for a few games at a time, so they should be able to handle his absence, even if it does drop some offensive prowess from the lineup.
Before we look at the projected lineup for tonight, let’s also talk about Anisimov. The second-line center missed the last three games with an upper-body injury of his own. As a result, Tanner Kero was called up from the AHL.
Who will the Blackhawks ice tonight?
With Hossa’s move to IR, no one was called up from Rockford since Anisimov simultaneously came off IR. Anisimov already has 27 points on the season, primarily centering the dynamic duo of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.
That line will become the bona fide No. 1 line heading into tonight’s game, and probably until Hossa returns. (It’s really always the No. 1 line considering how much it produces, but people prefer to think of Jonathan Toews as the No. 1 center, so …)
Here were the lines from today’s Blackhawks’ morning skate:
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Vincent Hinostroza
We can only hope Motte slots in instead of Tootoo, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter takes place. I also wouldn’t be surprised if that line doesn’t see much ice time regardless.
So Hossa’s absence will certainly be felt, as it robs the Blackhawks of putting together a fourth line that can produce a bit more. But this is how the team has been playing the last week-plus. They just need to find more offense from the sources they have available.
That starts with the Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line, of course, but maybe we should expect some kick out of the Toews line tonight. Those two youngsters on his wings have been pretty dynamic in the offensive zone of late, and Toews finally got off the scoring schnide Friday with a tap-in.
Anyway, the Blackhawks start their final stretch of 2016 games tonight at 7:30 p.m. against the Winnipeg Jets. Check back in with Blackhawk Up later for more on that game.