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Blackhawks, Wild shuffle lineups

by Dan Myers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild have each made adjustments to their lineups in advance of their game Thursday at Xcel Energy Center (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

For the Blackhawks, Andrew Shaw and Michal Handzus did not make the trip to Minnesota and are unavailable Thursday. Handzus is sick and will miss his second consecutive game. Shaw sustained an upper-body injury when he was checked hard into the boards late in Chicago's game Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.

Each is considered day-to-day and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said each could return to the lineup as soon as Friday when Chicago plays the Anaheim Ducks at United Center.

The Blackhawks also reassigned center Brandon Pirri to the Rockford Ice Hogs of the American Hockey League. Pirri had six goals and five assists in 24 games with Chicago, but Quenneville said Pirri needs to work on his game in the defensive end.

Chicago countered those moves by calling up Jeremy Morin and Joakim Nordstrom from Rockford and both are expected to be in the lineup Thursday. This will be Morin's third stint with the Hawks this season. He has three assists in nine games; he has six goals and 12 points in 13 AHL games. Nordstrom started the season and had one goal in eight games before being reassigned to the AHL.

With Shaw out of the lineup Minnesota is expected to counter with more speed in its bottom-six, scratching fourth-line center Zenon Konopka for the first time this season in place of rookie Erik Haula.

"First and foremost, that's why he’s in the lineup," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We're playing a fast team and I expect it to be a high-pace game. It's going to give us a little flexibility in how we work that fourth line."

Konopka's absence leaves the Wild short on grit and without one of the top faceoff specialists in the League. Among players who have taken at least 150 draws this season, Konopka leads the league with a 65.0-percent success rate.

The Wild, also on the front half of back-to-back games, are expected to start Josh Harding in goal and counter with Niklas Backstrom on Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The game Thursday is the third of the season between the new Central Division rivals, with the road team having won each game so far. Minnesota won 5-3 on Oct. 26 in Chicago and the Blackhawks defeated the Wild 5-1 two days later in St. Paul.

Chicago (20-5-4) leads Minnesota (16-8-5) by seven points in the standings entering play Thursday.

Here are the expected lineups for the Blackhawks and Wild:


Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad - Kris Versteeg - Patrick Kane

Jeremy Morin - Joakim Nordstrom - Sheldon Brookbank

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Injured: Bryan Bickell (lower body), Michal Handzus (illness), Andrew Shaw (upper body), Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body)


Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Dany Heatley

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Torrey Mitchell

Mike Rupp - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Clayton Stoner - Keith Ballard

Josh Harding

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Zenon Konopka, Nate Prosser, Matt Dumba

Injured: Mikael Granlund (concussion)

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