The Blackhawks went into the break on a roll. Now healthy and welcoming Johnny Oduya back into the fold, they'll look to pick up where they left off.
Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson will be together again and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. The Blackhawks, winners of 12 of their last 13 games and coming off a four-day break, hit the busy stretch now. But playing 17 games in the final 31 days of their regular season isn't daunting.
"We know it'll be a busy schedule for the rest of the season. We like that, too, when we get into a routine of playing every other day and we've been playing well," Jonathan Toews said. "We know what details we need to stick to to continue our success, so we'll focus on that."
Oduya and Hjalmarsson have been skating/practicing together for several days as each got back to game speed from their respective injuries (ankle for Oduya, upper body for Hjalmarsson). Coach Joel Quenneville said the two will get their usual workload, including 5-on-5 and penalty killing, to start. As for how long it'll take for Oduya and Hjalmarsson to rekindle prior chemistry, Quenneville doesn't anticipate it'll be long.
"We don't want them to change their games. Whether they know where each other is with the puck offensively, I think defensively they're pretty reliable in their own games. Knowing where each other [is] with little outlet passes, I think that'll be acquired. But their reads offensively are safe. Hopefully they get comfortable with each other with the puck."
Scott Darling (hand) took some shots prior to the Blackhawks' morning skate on Thursday but Quenneville said there's no change in Darling's injury timeline. He was injured at last Friday's skate and ruled out three weeks.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Live stream: CSNChicago.com
Blackhawks forward lines
Nick Schmaltz-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Marian Hossa
Tomas Jurco-Marcus Kruger-Jordin Tootoo
Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Scott Darling (hand)
Ducks forward lines
Andrew Cogliano-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Patrick Eaves-Ryan Getzlaf-Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie-Rickard Rakell-Corey Perry
Logan Shaw-Nate Thompson-Chris Wagner
Cam Fowler-Kevin Bieksa
Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson
Sami Vatanen-Brandon Montour
Simon Despres (upper body), Clayton Stoner (abdominal surgery), John Gibson (muscle strain)