The Chicago Blackhawks are back on the ice Thursday at the United Center taking on their division rival St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks will welcome Marian Hossa back to the lineup after missing the previous six games with an upper-body injury.
Hossa will reclaim his spot at right wing on the top line centered by Jonathan Toews and rookie Brendon Saad at the left wing. Michael Frolik had been Hossa’s replacement on the top line, but will now likely drop down to the third line.
Now that Hossa is healthy, all eyes will turn to Patrick Sharp who has been out of the lineup since he suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury against the Colorado Avalanche (Mar. 6).
When asked about his injury status and when he may return to the lineup by Scott Powers from ESPNChicago.com, Sharp said he was eager to get back on the ice but will be cautious in his recovery.
“It needs to be 100 percent to be back, especially the situation we’re in. It sucks now to be missing games. I want to be out there. When it’s ready, I’m going to play for sure.”
The Blackhawks have yet to lose a game in regulation with both Sharp and Hossa in the lineup. Chicago is 2-0 this season against the Blues, who are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with the Nashville Predators and are a desperate team right now.
The Blues acquired two defensemen prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline, Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, and won for the first time in their last four games on Monday night. A win over the top team in the NHL will go a long way toward giving the team confidence with 13 games remaining after Thursday night’s contest.
However, I think the Blackhawks are too talented, too deep and the return of Hossa will be more than enough to give the home team the win in this one.