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)

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.