Dave Bolland (upper body) and Ben Smith (concussion) are questionable for the weekend as the Chicago Blackhawks prepare for their season opener Friday night against the Dallas Stars.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Bolland tried to skate after practice on Wednesday but he wasn't quite ready. Bolland was hurt last Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings. And while Michael Frolik centered that checking line with Bryan Bickell and Rostislav Olesz the past two days, Quenneville said Bolland's return still seems imminent.
"Bolley gives you that reliable center who can play against top guys in a shut-down role, but I still think (that line with Bolland) isn't that far away from getting back together again," Quenneville said. "Hopefully we'll see it this weekend."
If Bolland isn't ready, the Blackhawks could call up another center. Marcus Kruger and Brandon Pirri are two possible options.
Smith is questionable because he hasn't been cleared for contact.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks had a scare on Tuesday when Jamal Mayers went off the ice clutching his right wristhand in pain. But Mayers, who was clipped by Patrick Sharp, came back a few minutes later and finished practice.
"I'm fine," he said. "I just got hit awkwardly and I just wanted to make sure I was OK. I'm good."
Sharp said he and Mayers joked about it once they knew Mayers was OK.
"I guess all that weight training's paid off," Sharp said. "Hopefully he won't try to get me back one of these days."
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.
Probably not the way the Blackhawks wanted to start their second half of the season.
After a five-day break, the Blackhawks suffered a brutal 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the United Center. This coming after a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on home ice last Sunday.
"It was a game we had to win," Quenneville said after Saturday's loss. "Disappointing in a lot of ways."
The Blackhawks needed both goaltenders to get through 60 minutes. Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass combined for 39 saves on 46 shots.
On the offensive side of things, Patrick Kane hit a milestone.
The 29-year-old had two goals and an assist and recorded his 800th career point, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to reach 800 points.
The Blackhawks are now 22-18-6 on the season with 50 points and rank last in the Central Division, five points behind the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.
The Blackhawks' schedule doesn't get any easier when the Tampa Bay Lightning — the league-leader in points — come to town on Monday.
See what Quenneville and Kane had to say about Saturday's loss in the video above.
Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.
1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.
The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.
He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.
"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."
2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.
He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.
On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.
3. Mathew Barzal.
Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.
He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game.
The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.