It turns out the Chicago Blackhawks’ win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday had plenty of negatives to come from it
Chicago Blackhawks fans knew their team did not escape unscathed from a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at the United Center.
Artem Anisimov missing a majority of the game due to what was later confirmed as a lower-body injury assured that. However, it turns out the Blackhawks may be missing more than their second-line center come Friday against the New York Islanders.
The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine had plenty of updates today as far as the Blackhawks’ team health. Some of them are positive, and others are not.
Anisimov is still being evaluated for his injury, believed by some last night to be a leg issue. Coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t seem to believe the injury is a major concern.
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Meanwhile, Artemi Panarin is being looked at for an upper-body injury. Q determined the Russian winger would be questionable against the Islanders.
Also, red-hot Nick Schmaltz is experiencing an illness. Q said the sickness was not the mumps, which is going around at least the Minnesota Wild locker room. Corey Crawford was recently ill as well, though Q also said that wasn’t a case of the mumps.
Thankfully, Q said he liked Schmaltz’s chances of suiting up Friday. Crow, meanwhile, will suit up against New York after missing a couple games due to his illness.
Not suiting up will be Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya. Hjammer will miss the entire week, as previously stated by Q, due to an injury last week. Oduya, meanwhile, is easing in to play with Chicago after being traded from Dallas earlier this week. Oduya played in only one game last month due to an ankle injury.
What does all this news mean?
Well, the first thing it means is the Blackhawks could be rolling a very interesting lineup come this weekend.
They’ll take on the New York Islanders and Nashville Predators on Friday and Saturday, respectively, before a four-day break ahead of pretty constant competition through the rest of the month.
Da Windy City
The Blackhawks are currently on a five-game winning streak and have pulled within three points of the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division’s top spot. However, the Wild have two games in hand. The Blackhawks are also 12 points clear of Nashville for third in the division with equal games played.
That means the Blackhawks are getting closer and closer to locked in to their postseason spot. As such, Q can afford to be cautious with his injured and sick.
So we’ll see more of Michal Rozsival, who needs to play two more games this season to become eligible for the upcoming expansion draft. We’ll probably see Andrew Desjardins, who’s been a healthy scratch more often than not of late.
We may even see Jordin Tootoo, who you couldn’t be blamed for believing didn’t exist anymore. He hasn’t played since Feb. 4 at Dallas.
Overall, the biggest concern here should be Anisimov. He’s centering a really important line for the Blackhawks and couldn’t finish yesterday’s contest due to injury. Not rushing him back is critical.
The Blackhawks also shouldn’t rush Panarin back from whatever is nagging him. It wasn’t bad enough to keep him from last night’s game, but the youngster has struggled to score of late. Panarin hasn’t potted a goal in his last seven games, though he has five points in that span.
The Blackhawks can arguably afford to rest some guys at the moment. Piling that on top of a four-game break next week can do wonders for players’ bodies and minds. Then, when the Blackhawks are playing every other day down the stretch, they’ll be in a lot better shape than they would’ve been in a “rush the guys back out” situation.
Of course, you’d rather not keep a guy like Schmaltz down if you don’t have to. His confidence is soaring of late, and he’s crushing his role on Chicago’s top line.
Needless to say, all these nicks and illnesses are course-of-the-season ordeals. The Blackhawks will need to deal with them on a case-by-case basis.