Marian Hossa will not play after all when the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues tonight at Scottrade Center.
Hossa, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury since Feb. 13, looked like a possibility tonight when he practiced on Tuesday. He skated on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Andrew Ladd in practice, and again at Wednesday morning’s skate. But after going through an extended skate this morning, Hossa said he’s not quite ready.
“Yeah, it was getting better, but obviously I want to have a morning skate after instead of a practice, and still feeling it wasn’t there yet and I don’t want to rush it. I’d rather wait an extra couple of days,” Hossa said. “And bag-skating also helps to get conditioning back where I want it to be and make sure if I am physically and mentally 100 percent. It’s getting there, but I didn’t feel like tonight was the day.”
With Hossa out, the Blackhawks’ lines will probably look like they did in their last game. Andrew Shaw will likely be at right wing on the top line with Ladd and Toews while Dennis Rasmussen will probably center the fourth line with Brandon Mashinter and Dale Weise. The second and third lines should remain the same.
Asked if he would be ready for the Blackhawks’ game against the Dallas Stars on Friday, Hossa said he will wait and see.
“We’ll go day by day and obviously if I feel 100 percent,” he said. “I don’t want to take a chance so close to the playoffs. I want to make sure I’m 100 percent.”
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Indeed, the postseason is the big concern with Hossa. He’ll still be back in plenty of time for that, but there’s no need to rush him if he’s not completely ready at the moment.
“I think when you’re ready, you’re ready,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “When he’s ready to go – he knows his body – we’ll make the decision. But he wasn’t ready.”
Meanwhile, Marcus Kruger, who agreed to a three-year extension on Tuesday, could return to the lineup sooner than expected. Asked if Kruger (wrist) could join the Blackhawks on their trek through Canada at the end of March, Quenneville said, “I would say, if there’s a chance he could play on that trip, he’ll be on that trip.”