Game 1: BLACKHAWKS at BLUES
Western Conference First Round
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports, CSN-CH, FS-MW
CHICAGO -- Andrew Ladd will be a game-time decision for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on Wednesday.
Ladd, who plays on the top line, flew back to Chicago to be with his wife for the birth of their third child. If he doesn't play, forward Richard Panik likely will take Ladd's spot on a line with center Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa.
Panik skated there during the morning skate and played with Toews in place of Hossa, who missed the final three games of the regular season because of a lower-body injury.
"He's played up there with [Toews] recently and he looks pretty good up there," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We'll see what happens.
Panik said he's ready to go if needed. He's eager to help the Stanley Cup champions begin their title defense.
"I'm really excited," Panik said. "It's not a for-sure thing that I'm going to play, but I have to stay ready and we will see if [Ladd] will come or not. But I will be ready for it and excited."
Panik has played with Toews and Ladd before, but hasn't had a chance to play with Toews and Hossa. It's a spot that Quenneville originally wanted Panik to fill after he was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 3, but that never materialized.
"In general those are really good players, [two] of the best in the League," Panik said. "So if I play, I will just play my game and work for those two guys and hopefully it's going to work out. [Right now] the main focus is to stay ready. Probably I'm not going to know until the last minute if I'm in there or not."
The Blues held an optional skate prior to the Blackhawks taking the ice.
Based on practice Tuesday, St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock will have a healthy roster for Game 1, including the return of captain David Backes, who missed the final three games of the regular season because of a lower-body injury.
The Blues dealt with a lot of injuries throughout the regular season, and Hitchcock said it played a role in forming a strong backbone for them heading into the postseason.
"I think adversity could have broke us," he said. "But it's created a spirit that's here. I think all of us are really excited to see how we do. We probably couldn't have drawn a tougher opponent. But the feeling in the locker room and with the coaching staff is we've just overcome so much this year. This is another obstacle. We've battled back from some pretty adverse situations and it's created a bond in that dressing room. It's created a bond between the coaches and players that's pretty strong, so we want to test it out."
The last time the Blues tested the Blackhawks in the playoffs it didn't go well. The Blues won the first two games of a first-round series in 2014, but the Blackhawks won the next four.
"The last series we played against Chicago, we weren't great in Games 1 and 2 but we won," Hitchcock said. "We played so well in [Games] 3, 4 and 5 and the first two periods of [Game 6] and still lost. That's the best we've played in any of these playoff series ... and still lost. I just look at the way we played Chicago the last time, and if we can play at that level I like our chances."
Here are the projected lineups:
Richard Panik - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Brandon Mashinter - Teuvo Teravainen - Tomas Fleischmann
Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Andrew Shaw
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Viktor Svedberg - Brent Seabrook
Erik Gustafsson - Michal Rozsival
Scratched: David Rundblad, Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise, Christian Ehrhoff
Suspended: Duncan Keith
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Patrik Berglund - Alexander Steen - David Backes
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
Injured: Steve Ott (colitis, hamstrings)
Scratched: Dmitrij Jaskin, Magnus Paajarvi, Petteri Lindbohm, Robert Bortuzzo, Anders Nilsson
Status report: Quenneville said no other lineup changes are expected for the Blackhawks outside of Ladd's situation.
Who's hot: Kane finished the regular season with seven goals and 14 points in his final eight games. ... Tarasenko had six goals and five assists during an eight-game point streak to end the regular season.