CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks will use their regular lineup Friday night against the Calgary Flames (8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) prior to wrapping up their regular season on the road Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
The Blackhawks recalled defenseman Ryan Stanton from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Friday, but coach Joel Quenneville said more prospects will likely make the trip to St, Louis on Saturday to give some regulars a breather prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week.
After wrapping up first in the Western Conference and earning the Presidents’ Trophy for posting the best record in the National Hockey League, Chicago has the luxury of not worrying about these final two games.
“We’re going to play our group tonight and [Saturday] we might be resting some guys,” Quenneville said after Friday’s morning skate at United Center.
Goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland are both out against Calgary with lower-body injuries and neither will make the trip to St. Louis. Corey Crawford will start in goal against the Flames, while backup Carter Hutton might get the nod against the Blues.
Quenneville said he’s not concerned about Bolland’s injury and expects him to be ready for the playoffs, which in the past has been when the gritty centerman shines brightest. However, the Blackhawks coach hinted on Friday that veteran Michal Handzus might get a look at second-line center – between stars Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane – even when Bolland returns.
“Sometimes all those decisions are made for us based on our play and whether we need changes or not,” Quenneville said.
Handzus, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks before the NHL Trade Deadline, played that role in Wednesday's 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers. And Quenneville liked what he saw.
"I think last game we found out that, in a trial situation, Handzus played pretty good with those guys,” Quenneville said. “It gives us another option as we go along here. Sometimes you find things out. Sometimes it works over the short-term and sometimes, hopefully, it goes a little longer.
After losing 4-1 in St. Louis Thursday night, Calgary did not have a morning skate on Friday as they prepared for their last game of the regular season.
Here are the projected lineups for the Blackhawks and Flames for Friday night:
Michael Cammalleri – Matt Stajan – Lee Stempniak
Sven Baertschi – Mikael Backlund – Jiri Hudler
Paul Byron – Roman Horak – Roman Cervenka
Max Reinhart – Blair Jones – Tim Jackman
Mark Giordano – Dennis Wideman
T.J. Brodie – Mark Cundari
Chris Butler – Anton Babchuk
Scratched: Brett Carson, Akim Aliu, Ben Street, Carter Bancks, Ben Hanowski, Leland Irving
Injured: Curtis Glencross (knee), Alex Tanguay (knee), Derek Smith (knee), Cory Sarich (broken nose), Steve Begin (hand), Brian McGrattan (shoulder)
Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp – Michal Handzus – Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell – Andrew Shaw – Viktor Stalberg
Brandon Bollig – Marcus Kruger – Michael Frolik
Duncan Keith – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy – Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya – Michal Rozsival
Scratched: Drew Leblanc, Sheldon Brookbank, Daniel Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri, Ben Smith, Adam Clendening, Shawn Lalonde, Steve Montador, Henrik Karlsson
Injured: Ray Emery (lower body), Dave Bolland (lower body)