With Saturday’s game having no impact on their playoff positioning, the Chicago Blackhawks have opted to play things cautiously with several injured players, leaving three key contributors at home while the team heads to Columbus.
The Blackhawks will battle the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in their final game of the regular season, and they’ll do so without Andrew Shaw, Artem Anisimov, and Marian Hossa.
All three of the players were absent on Thursday night when the team fell in overtime to the St. Louis Blues, and although there has been progress on at least Hossa’s front, the organization isn’t taking any chances when it comes to the health of players that could have a really big impact come playoff time.
Hossa suffered a lower body injury in the game against the Boston Bruins earlier in the week, and he’s missed the Hawks last two games. He has been skating with the team during some portions of practices, but Joel Quenneville will hold him out for one more day of rest before the team begins the postseason next week.
The status of Anisimov is more up in the air. Quenneville says that he is healthy after suffering an upper body injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, but with the violence of the hit that he took from Antoine Vermette in the game, there will certainly be questions as to whether or not he’ll be at full strength when the postseason begins.
Shaw’s situation is even murkier. He was injured in a game last week against the Winnipeg Jets, and he has not been practicing at all with the Blackhawks during the intervening week. His absence would hurt the Blackhawks on the power play and at even strength, as his skillset allows him to move all over the lineup if Quenneville wants to make changes to his rotation.
Amidst all of that bad news, there is some good news to consider: Corey Crawford did make the trip with the team to Columbus and is likely going to start Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets as he tries to get his skillset sharp before the playoffs begin.