Niklas Hjalmarsson sat out of the morning skate on Thursday for the Chicago Blackhawks, but forward Marian Hossa participated fully and is expected to play when the team lines up against the St. Louis Blues tonight at the United Center.
In addition, Michal Handzus worked out on the fourth line at the right wing spot with Brandon Bollig at left wing and Marcus Kruger at center.
Finally, Patrick Kane rejoined the team after missing Wednesday’s practice with an illness, so he should be good to go against the Blues.
Here is the full rundown of the Hawks’ lines at practice:
Two things immediately stand out about this lineup. The first is that Daniel Carcillo isn’t skating on the fourth line. It seems a bit odd considering the way he’s actually been improving as of late, but perhaps Quenneville just wanted to shake things up a bit by inserting Bollig.
The other thing is that it seems asinine to have Handzus skating as a winger on that fourth line. His lack of speed is a serious concern for the team, and by putting him at wing instead of his natural center position, it seems that head coach Joel Quenneville is taking away his main strength as a face-off specialist and forcing him into an uncomfortable game.
Finally, according to Brian Hedger of NHL.com, the Hawks didn’t really have any defined defensive pairings at this skate. If Hjalmarsson is unable to play tonight, then it’ll be interesting to see who ends up getting slotted with Duncan Keith. Brent Seabrook and Nick Leddy have seemed to work well together on the second pairing, and Michal Roszival and Johnny Oduya have been pretty good in their own right on the third. Will Sheldon Brookbank simply slot in with Keith, or will Quenneville pull the lever on the slot machine until he finds a combination that he’s okay with?