Until Wednesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks had been very lucky. Not “winning games” lucky, I mean “being healthy” lucky. They’ve actually been one of the healthier teams this season, with barely a handful of players sitting out for any stretch of time. Of course, one game has busted that luck and given fans real cause for concern.
The trouble began only minutes before puck drop in their game against the Colorado Avalanche with the announcement that Marian Hossa, who’d been on the ice for pregame warm-ups, became a late scratch for the game. In the second period, an elbow to Andrew Shaw’s head from Paul Stastny sent him to the bench in distress, and he didn’t play in the third period. It was also in the third period that Patrick Sharp was caught along the boards and left the game in pain with what looked like a shoulder injury. The Blackhawks fought back and won the game with only nine forwards and a lot of rotating lines.
The good news is that Hossa and Shaw traveled with the team to Denver for Friday’s game against the Avalanche. The bad news is that Sharp will be staying behind, and the whispers are that he could be out for two to three weeks. That means Brandon Bollig, who was sent back to Rockford on Wednesday, was recalled to the team on Thursday. And fear not, Michael Frolik fans: although he was ill for Wednesday’s game, he’ll be in Denver with the team – just not on the same plane in case he’s still contagious.
This will be the real test for the Blackhawks – whether they can keep their streak alive in spite of injury. They’ve actually done a good job of that so far, with the majority of the roster staying healthy and only missing one or two games due to injury or being scratched. Even when Corey Crawford and Dave Bolland sat out for four and five games respectively, the team stayed cool under pressure. The ability to seamlessly fill in gaps on their lines is a good example of their cohesiveness.
Up to this point, no one has been able to fell the Blackhawks. If they finally do lose their first regulation, it won’t be solely because of sloppy play. The cursed bite of the dreaded injury bug will more than likely knock them from their lofty perch.