Blackhawks

Scott Darling starts, Marian Hossa 'likely' in as Blackhawks seek to clinch playoff berth

Scott Darling starts, Marian Hossa 'likely' in as Blackhawks seek to clinch playoff berth

Scott Darling will start and Marian Hossa is expected to be back in the lineup when the Blackhawks face the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.

Per the NHL, there are a couple of ways the Blackhawks could clinch a playoff spot tonight:

  • If they beat the Avalanche in regulation or overtime and the Los Angeles Kings lose to the Calgary Flames in any fashion or beat the Flames in a shootout. Or,
  • if they beat the Avalanche in a shootout and the Kings lose to the Flames in any way. Or,
  • if they get one point against the Avalanche and the Kings lose to the Flames in regulation.

Hossa missed Saturday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with a lower-body injury but coach Joel Quenneville said Hossa is “likely” to play vs. the Avalanche. The last time the Blackhawks had a back-to-back Quenneville rested Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya, both of whom were coming off recent injuries. Quenneville said, “maybe one of them might not play” vs. the Avalanche. It seems it’s more likely to be a rest night for Oduya.

The Blackhawks have won four in a row and, entering Sunday night’s games, hold a five-point lead over the Minnesota Wild, who are playing the Winnipeg Jets. Although the Wild have lost four games in a row – a season high for them – Quenneville isn’t expecting that skid to last.

“I see them finding a way to get some points here,” he said. “I know everyone has good and bad streaks. We’ve seen a streaky year from a lot of teams that had excellent runs and they had a big run. We still think they’re a very dangerous team, capable of winning every single night, and [have] real balance to their lineup. Don’t get comfortable being in the position we’re in. We were in the position they’re [now] in earlier in the year and they were in the position we’re in today, so let’s just keep trying to push ahead.”

The Avalanche have lost three of four, including a 5-1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.

Broadcast information:

Time: 6 p.m.

TV: WGN

Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks (projected)

Forward lines

John Hayden-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Nick Schmaltz-Patrick Kane

Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Marian Hossa

Andrew Desjardins-Marcus Kruger-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Scott Darling

Injuries/illness: Artem Anisimov (left leg)

 

Colorado Avalanche (projected)

Forward lines

Gabriel Landeskog-Matt Duchene-Rene Bourque

Sven Andrighetto-Nathan Mackinnon-Mikko Rantanen

John Mitchell-Carl Soderberg-Blake Comeau

Mikhail Grigorenko-JT Compher-Joe Colborne

Defensive Pairs

Erik Johnson-Mark Barberio

Fedor Tyutin-Tyson Barrie

Anton Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin

Goaltender

Calvin Pickard

Injuries/illness:: Semyon Varlamov (hip), Nikita Zadorov (broken ankle), Matt Nieto (knee)

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

Lance Bouma took his place at fourth-line left wing as the Blackhawks rolled their forward rushes on Tuesday morning. As the Blackhawks have tinkered with their trios, Bouma, whose final two seasons with the Calgary Flames were filled with uncertainty, has found a consistent role in this lineup.

“Obviously I was brought here for a reason,” Bouma said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in Calgary. To come here to Chicago and have that role, it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Blackhawks knew what they wanted from Bouma and his fellow fourth liners: some physical play, some energy and if there are any scoring opportunities, bonus. It’s a second chance for Bouma, whose contract was terminated by the Flames on June 30.

“I think it’s definitely a motivator knowing that you get in that situation where all of a sudden, ‘OK, I have to almost start over again and I have to prove to a new team that I belong in this league and I can play,’” coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “There are always circumstances where teams make decisions like that. We’ve been a part of it. And moving forward as a player, you’ve gotta look at it as a fresh opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get back to playing your game.”

After recording 16 goals and 18 assists in the 2014-15 season, Bouma signed a three-year, $6.6 million deal with the Flames. The next two seasons didn’t go as planned as Bouma dealt with injuries, inconsistent play and healthy scratches. So getting that call from the Blackhawks was a huge lift.

“I was just looking forward to a fresh start and something new,” he said. “I just was ready to come into camp and have a great season and it’s been great so far.”

[MORE: Eddie Olczyk expected to return to broadcasting booth this week

Tommy Wingels, who has centered the Blackhawks’ fourth line the last several games – and will again vs. St. Louis on Wednesday – said Bouma looks “refreshed” this season.

“Obviously whether it’s a team doesn’t want to bring you back or it’s a trade or buyout, there’s certainly something that deep down gets you going,” Wingels said. “I think it was a good summer for him mentally to come to a new organization, come to a new group of guys and re-establish his game. It’s tough when you’re with the same coaches, same team for so long; maybe what you do gets taken for granted. He looks good and he’s skating really well and I think he moves really well for a big man. He’s strong on the pucks and he’s a good asset for us.

Bouma isn’t here to be a top-six player. He’s not here to fulfill a contract that he no longer has. The Blackhawks needed depth, energy and a physical presence and in brining that, Bouma has earned steady work.  

“We knew the player coming in that we wanted him to play that style and he’s done a good job of it, too,” Quenneville said of Bouma. “So it’s something we were looking for in our needs and it fit perfectly."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle discuss Nick Schmaltz returning to the Blackhawks line-up on Wednesday night and which player is looking forward most to his return?

They also weigh in on Corey Crawford’s incredible start to the season and why he’s the major reason why the Hawks begin the week in first place in the Central.

They also discuss who is the biggest Hawks rivalry right now, which new defenseman has impressed the most and how is Connor Murphy dealing with being a healthy scratch at times this season?

Plus, they discuss someone other than Nick Schmaltz returning to work on Wednesday night.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: