The something old will be the return of Marian Hossa, who had been out with an upper-body injury since their last game against the Colorado Avalanche. He’s stated in post-practice interviews that he’s ready to play, and the home crowd will be more than welcoming. Also returning (in a way) will be Michal Handzus, newly traded to the Blackhawks from the San Jose Sharks. Both men are needed in crucial areas of the Blackhawks’ game, namely the power play and in faceoffs.
The something new comes on the Blues side. We’re now in the post-trade part of the season, and the Blues have a couple of new faces. Jay Bouwmeester was traded to the Blues from the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, while Jordan Leopold came to St. Louis from the Buffalo Sabres on March 30. Both will be new members of the Blues’ defense, and the Blackhawks shouldn’t take them lightly. Bouwmeester was the one who tied the first Blackhawks encounter with the Flames with mere seconds left in the third period before Hossa scored the game-winning goal.
There is some bad news for the Blackhawks. Although Hossa’s coming back to the lineup, Patrick Sharp will not. He’s getting closer to his comeback from a shoulder injury, but he’s not quite there.
Apart from old and new faces on the ice, the Blackhawks have a huge problem to overcome. In their last few games, they’ve tended to blow leads and give out in the third period, allowing their opponents to overtake them, and in the case of the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, win the game. The Blackhawks need to find a way to keep the momentum they gain from their lead and use that to sustain it in the third. They can’t take their collective foot off the gas pedal and coast their way to a win.
The Blackhawks are only two points ahead of the Ducks in the Western Conference. Every game is crucial to stay on top. The Blues won’t go down without a fight, and the Blackhawks won’t be defeated easily.