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Blackhawks rest four regulars in season finale

by John Manasso

NASHVILLE -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will rest four regulars in the regular-season finale against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night: defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson and centers Michal Handzus and Marcus Kruger.

With goalie Corey Crawford starting the night before (and getting replaced to start the third period), Antti Raanta was slated to start on Saturday.

"I think you've got to be ready to play," Quenneville said of his goals for the game against Nashville, which won the season series against Chicago. The Predators "have been playing very well. They've had our number the last two times we saw them in Chicago and you've got to be ready to play a hard game. Keeping it simple is what we're going to try and reinforce, do things the right way and give yourself a chance to get two points."

Quenneville also said that Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane, both injured, remain on track to play in Game 1 of Chicago's first-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week. The Blackhawks are locked into third place in the Central Division and will play the Colorado Avalanche or the St. Louis Blues.

"Two different type of teams," Quenneville said of Chicago's potential opponents. "The Blues have had an outstanding season. They play a hard game. They play a perfect team game positionally. They play tight, they work hard. They don't give you any space.

"Colorado is a very dangerous team. They've got a lot of one-on-one players. They've got a lot of skill. They can score and make plays as well as anybody in the League. They're very dangerous."

Quenneville said he did not have a preference in terms of an opponent. St. Louis has lost five straight while Colorado is 8-1-1 in its past 10.

"It's all timing," Quenneville said. "Everybody has stretches in the year where you go through different type of things but Colorado had an amazing run at the end here. We looked like we're trying to catch them and we just never got close to them and St. Louis, they looked like we had them in our sights there and they took off again, too, so we'll see."

Here are the projected lineups:


Patrick Sharp - Andrew Shaw - Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad - Peter Regin - Kris Versteeg

Bryan Bickell - Ben Smith - Jeremy Morin

Brandon Bollig - Joakim Nordstrom - Matt Carey

Nick Leddy - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Michal Rozsival

David Rundblad - Sheldon Brookbank

Antti Raanta

Corey Crawford

Injured: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews

Scratched: Duncan Keith, Marcus Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Michal Handzus


Matt Cullen - Mike Fisher - Patric Hornqvist

Gabriel Bourque - Calle Jarnkrok - Craig Smith

Rich Clune - Paul Gaustad - Eric Nystrom

Nick Spaling - Colin Wilson - Viktor Stalberg

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Victor Bartley - Seth Jones

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Injured: Patrick Eaves

Scratched: Michael Del Zotto

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