CHICAGO -- All that's left for the Chicago Blackhawks to accomplish in the regular season is to secure the Presidents' Trophy as the NHLs top team in points earned.
Otherwise, the Blackhawks have already locked up everything else. They were the first team to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they won the Central Division handily, and they will be the Western Conference's top seed in the postseason. They've done all that and still have six games left, which raises the question if they will continue playing their usual lineup or start sitting out key players to avoid injuries and garner rest.
The answer, at least short term, is to stay the course. Chicago plays back-to-back games at United Center this weekend, beginning with Friday's contest against the Nashville Predators (7:30 p.m.) and finishing against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.
"I think we want to go in the same mode here," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Friday's morning skate. "We've still got six games [left]. We've got a busy schedule next week, but we'll play these games and go along here and we'll make those decisions as we go along. We're not going to change going into these two games. We'll see. We have that in our pocket to visit with, for sure, but that depends."
Chicago had all players in its skate except for defenseman Michal Rozsival (upper body) and goalie Ray Emery (lower body). Each skated on his own prior to the team skate, after missing a Thursday practice, and are listed day-to-day.
Quenneville said Emery, who's 16-1-0 in 20 appearances, isn't likely to get back in the active lineup for a few more days.
Nashville will be without Brandon Yip (lower body), Mike Fisher (upper body) and Patric Hornqvist (upper body).
The Predators recalled forwards Daniel Bang and Kevin Henderson of Milwaukee in the American Hockey League under emergency conditions and will have recently acquired rookie forward Filip Forsberg playing his first NHL road game.
Here is how the Blackhawks and Predators might look Friday night:
Sergei Kostitsyn – Nick Spaling – Craig Smith
Taylor Beck – David Legwand – Filip Forsberg
Richard Clune – Chris Mueller – Matt Halischuk
Daniel Bang – Kevin Henderson – Bobby Butler
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Victor Bartley – Kevin Klein
Hal Gill – Jonathon Blum
Scratched: Brandon Yip (lower body), Mike Fisher (upper body) and Patric Hornqvist (upper body)
Injured: Colin Wilson (season-ending shoulder surgery), Gabriel Bourque (season-ending knee surgery), Paul Gaustad (season-ending shoulder surgery)
Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Daniel Carcillo – Dave Bolland – Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell – Andrew Shaw – Viktor Stalberg
Michal Handzus – Marcus Kruger – Michael Frolik
Duncan Keith – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy – Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya – Sheldon Brookbank
Scratched: Brandon Bollig, Jamal Mayers, Drew LeBlanc
Injured: Ray Emery (lower body, day-to-day), Michal Rozsival (upper body, day-to-day)