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At the Rink blog

Blackhawks welcome Hossa back against Blues

Thursday, 04.04.2013 / 1:14 PM
2012-2013 At the Rink blog

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks decided to stand pat after acquiring veteran forward Michal Handzus from the San Jose Sharks, so now it's time for the Western Conference leaders to put the roster that's gotten them this far to the test.

Chicago (27-5-3) sits atop the standings with 57 points but will face a good test from the Central Division rival St. Louis Blues (18-14-2, 38 points), who pay a visit to United Center on Thursday night (8:30 p.m. ET) looking to solidify a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We like our team [and] we like our depth," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Thursday's morning skate. "Up front … we're deep in that area, and on defense we've been pretty solid there all year as well. We're pleased with the way things have progressed. Our goaltending's been strong and consistent all year. We want to make sure we try and get better and bringing meaning to these games, because these are important games in a lot of ways. Let's make sure we get something out of them."

The Blackhawks will add to that depth against the Blues by getting forward Marian Hossa back on the top line after an upper-body injury kept him out six games. Forward Patrick Sharp is also close to returning from an upper-body injury that's sidelined him for 11 games but still needs a little more recovery time.

Right wing Patrick Kane was back on the ice for Thursday's morning skate after taking a day off from practice because of an illness.

"It wasn't the flu … I just didn't feel that well," Kane said. "It's just nice to kind of get a day off and regroup and relax and sleep it off, I guess. I feel fine today, so it's not a problem."

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was the lone Blackhawks player missing from the skate, but was in the building and is fine according to Quenneville. Corey Crawford will get the start in net, which will be his third straight.

Here's how the Blackhawks may line up against the Blues on Thursday night:

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Michael FrolikDave BollandPatrick Kane

Bryan BickellAndrew ShawViktor Stalberg

Brandon BolligMarcus KrugerMichal Handzus

Duncan KeithNiklas Hjalmarsson

Johnny OduyaMichal Rozsival

Nick LeddyBrent Seabrook

Corey Crawford

Ray Emery

Scratched: Daniel Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, Sheldon Brookbank

Injured: Patrick Sharp (IR, upper body)

For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory