Wednesday night is not an elimination night for the Chicago Blackhawks, but it’s a must-win scenario.
The Boston Bruins took a 2-1 series lead on Monday night following a shutout performance from Tuukka Rask. Now, with things staying in Boston for Game 4, the Blackhawks are looking to even up the series before things shift back to Chicago on Saturday. The last thing that the Blackhawks want at this juncture is a 3-1 deficit.
Well, they received some good news in that regard on Wednesday afternoon when reports surfaced that Marian Hossa was “expected” to play in Game 4. Hossa was injured in pregame warm-ups prior to Monday’s contest and did not suit up. The NHL’s most potent offensive attack was seemingly stifled without Hossa in the lineup.
Regardless of what happened in Game 3 though, Hossa is back and surely looking to rejuvenate this Chicago attack on Wednesday night. While the Bruins have all the momentum in this series, Chicago likely feels a string of confidence with Hossa’s return.
The Blackhawks will instantly be a better hockey team that they were on Monday with Hossa back in the lineup, but don’t expect Boston to be phased by his return. Keep in mind, the Bruins won Game 2 on the road with Hossa in the lineup, so while his impact will surely be felt on the offensive side of the puck, it’s nothing that Boston won’t be stressing.
Hossa received some unwarranted criticism for not playing on Monday, but it’s nothing that can’t be taken with a grain of salt. Even Hossa’s head coach was crediting his competitiveness and saying that, “if he could have been out there, he would have.”
Game 4 should undoubtedly be classic, as Chicago looks to prevent Boston from taking a commanding 3-1 series lead at home.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS