By Darrin Bauming
The Blackhawks will look to get back in the win column and snap their current four-game slide Friday night in Winnipeg against a Jets team that will likely be fired up to play against their former captain.
Andrew Ladd will step on MTS Centre ice for the first time since he was acquired by the Blackhawks on Feb. 25 — and his former teammates are well aware of it.
"It still feels like he's just hurt or something and we're expecting him back at any time," Jets forward Blake Wheeler said after mentioning his and Ladd's families got together Thursday to catch up.
"It'll be a little different seeing him (on the ice) for the first time. It's always good to get him on the ice and I'm sure there'll be some things said back and fourth and it should be a fun night."
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Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who won a Stanley Cup alongside Ladd in Chicago in 2010, cracked jokes ahead of Friday's Central Division tilt.
"It's all business," the Jets All-Star blueliner said. "I can't wait to shoot a puck at him. You know, run him into the boards."
"I already told him, I've got an elbow coming for him if he's coming," replied Ladd when told of Byfuglien's light-hearted threat. "So he might end up with a bloody nose."
Head coach Joel Quenneville confirmed goaltender Scott Darling will get the start Friday night, reiterating Corey Crawford's day-to-day status remains unchanged with an upper-body injury. Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for Winnipeg.
"It's a great opportunity for (Darling)," said Quenneville. "I know that he hadn't played much through most of the year, and (then) playing last game. And then all of a sudden the importance of the games are even more critical for everyone and taking advantage of it at a tough time like he did last year for us is what we're looking for."
Teuvo Teravainen did not skate Friday morning, with Quenneville listing him as "questionable" due to illness.