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Blackhawks' Hossa not yet ready to return

Forward to miss ninth straight game in pivotal matchup against Blues

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

BLACKHAWKS (41-21-5) at BLUES (38-20-9) 

TV: 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports 

ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks will not have right wing Marian Hossa in a key Central Division game against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.

The Blackhawks thought there was a good chance that Hossa, who has missed the past eight games with a lower-body injury, would return for a key stretch of two games that also has them playing at the first-place Dallas Stars on Friday.

Hossa wouldn't rule anything out for Friday, but after strong consideration and seeing how he got through the morning skate Wednesday, it was decided best to give it at least another game.

"It was getting better, but obviously I wanted to have a morning skate after a practice and still feeling I wasn't there yet and I don't want to rush it," Hossa said. "I would rather wait a couple extra days. Obviously bag skating will also help to get the conditioning back where I want it to be and make sure I'm physically and mentally 100 percent. It's getting better, but I didn't feel like tonight was the day."

Coach Joel Quenneville agreed and said it has nothing to do with playing a team that brings more physical play like the Blues.

"He said he's close, but he wasn't quite ready," Quenneville said. "I think when you're ready, you're ready. The player will give us the OK when he's ready to go. He knows his body and will make the decision, but he wasn't ready."

Hossa, who has 10 goals and 18 assists in 54 games, said there was no setback and sitting out was merely a precaution.

"It's very close, but it wasn't there yet today," Hossa said. "We'll go day by day and obviously if I feel 100 percent, even if I get closer to the (Stanley Cup) Playoffs, I want to make sure it's at 100 percent."

The Blues, who trail the Blackhawks by two points and Stars by three in the race for the Central Division crown, view this as a tremendous opportunity to implant themselves into the title chase.

"We're trying to catch them; they're trying to put distance between us," said Blues right wing Troy Brouwer, who won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010. "They're big points. If you can't get the wins against certain teams when you have the opportunities, it puts you behind, which means you've got to win two games now. For us, we're coming into this treating it as if it's a big game, trying to get into first place, trying to catch them and make sure that we can put ourselves in a good position where we can try and capture the division."

Here are the projected lineups:

BLACKHAWKS
Andrew Ladd - Jonathan Toews - Andrew Shaw
Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Andrew Desjardins - Teuvo Teravainen - Tomas Fleischmann
Brandon Mashinter - Dennis Rasmussen - Dale Weise

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Erik Gustafsson - Brent Seabrook
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford
Scott Darling

Injured: Marian Hossa (lower body), Marcus Kruger (upper body)
Scratched: Christian Ehrhoff, Richard Panik

BLUES
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Patrik Berglund - David Backes - Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko

Jake Allen
Anders Nilsson

Injured: Alexander Steen (upper body), Brian Elliott (lower body), Steve Ott (hamstring)
Scratched: Magnus Paajarvi, Robert Bortuzzo

Status report: Shaw will remain on the top line with Toews and Ladd and Rasmussen will stay in the lineup and center the fourth line. … Mashinter replaces Panik on the fourth line. … Steen and Elliott skated for a second day with teammates but neither is close to returning to active duty. It will be another two weeks before the Blues consider either ready.

Who's hot: Toews has a four-game point streak (three goals, one assist) and has a point in seven of the past eight games. Seabrook has nine points (five goals, four assists) in the past nine games. … Pietrangelo has a goal and two assists in three games since returning from a knee injury. Backes has three goals and three assists in the past seven games.

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