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Maple Leafs, Blackhawks each looking to rebound

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Forward Brad Richards will not play for the Chicago Blackhawks because of an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Chicago, which hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs at United Center, will be without the veteran center for the first time this season. The 34-year old Richards had worked his way into the role of centering the second line, with talented forwards Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane on the wings.

It's unclear how Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will configure his line combinations without Richards, who has 18 points (six goals) in 33 games. Andrew Shaw, who centers the third line, has experience centering Kane's line and could draw the initial look. Forward Ben Smith, who usually plays on the fourth line, has also logged time there last season, as has fourth-line center Marcus Kruger.

Quenneville also said goalie Antti Raanta will start to conclude the weekend back-to-back set. Starter Corey Crawford made 17 saves Saturday in Chicago's 3-2 shootout loss, which was his first game since being sidelined two weeks with a lower-body injury.

Goalie James Reimer will start for Toronto. He relieved Jonathan Bernier in the third period of a 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Reimer made 45 saves to defeat the Blackhawks Nov.1 in the first game of the season series.

Reimer didn't allow a goal in the third period of that game despite facing a whopping 26 shots and numerous good scoring chances for the Blackhawks. Neither team held a morning skate at United Center on Sunday.

The Blackhawks also released a statement Sunday about the death of assistant equipment manager Clint Reif.

"We are deeply saddened by the untimely loss of one of our own family members this morning, assistant equipment manager Clint Reif," the statement said. "Like all trainers and support staff within our organization, Clint was instrumental in helping our players and coaches prepare and compete both on and off the ice. Our sincerest sympathies go out to the Reif family."

The Blackhawks will wear a "CR" sticker on the back of their helmets Sunday and will hold a moment of silence before the game in Reif's honor. No other information about Reif's death were released.

"Our hearts and our prayers go out to [his wife] Kelly and the four children," Quenneville said. "The training staff. The trainers fraternity, which is as tight as any fraternity in any field, they all lost a brother today."

Here are the projected lineups:

Maple Leafs

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

James van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Mike Santorelli

Daniel Winnik - Peter Holland - David Clarkson

David Booth - Trevor Smith - Richard Panik

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson

Stephane Robidas - Roman Polak

Morgan Rielly - Jake Gardiner

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer

Injured: Leo Komarov (concussion symptoms)


Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Marcus Kruger - Patrick Sharp

Daniel Carcillo - Ben Smith - Joakim Nordstrom

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Tim Erixon - Michal Rozsival

Antti Raanta

Corey Crawford

Scratched: David Rundblad

Injured: Trevor van Riemsdyk (patella), Brad Richards (upper body)

Status report: Gardiner is a possibility to return to the third defense pairing after Holzer finished minus-1 against the Flyers and was on the ice for two even-strength goals against. ... Nordstrom hasn't played in the past two games, after being recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League as an extra forward. He has experience playing center, so he could center the fourth line or shift to one of the wings on that unit.

Who's hot: Kane extended his scoring streak to five games with an assist Saturday. He has three goals and four assists during the streak. ... Sharp's goal Saturday was his second in the past three games. ... Smith has scored in back-to-back games. ... James van Riemsdyk's goal Saturday was his fifth in the past 10 games. He has 10 points in that span. ... Kessel had two assists against the Flyers and has 11 points (six goals) in the past 10 games.

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