DENVER — Brad Richards missed his third straight game Saturday night with an upper-body injury. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Richards could be back Monday against Nashville, but where he’ll fit in the lineup remains to be seen.
In Richards’ absence, Patrick Sharp had moved up to the second line, back in his natural spot on the left wing, with Kris Versteeg sliding over to center. Richards had been centering that line with Versteeg and Patrick Kane, with the trio lighting it up over the circus trip last month. But Richards didn’t register a point in his last seven games before the injury, and Quenneville has liked what he’s seen from the new-look second unit.
Quenneville was non-committal about where Richards would slot back in.
“We’ll see,” he said before Saturday’s game. “I think tonight will tell us what we’re going to do going forward.”
By the middle of the game, Sharp was on a line with Daniel Carcillo and Ben Smith, and back on the right side, no less. But he said moving around wasn’t a major concern for him, even though he did have three assists in his first game back on the left side Sunday against Toronto (one coming on the power play).
“It’s just a matter of playing a few games at each position to get the understanding back,” he said. “Playing the right side my first game back in five weeks was the tough part. But either side is fine.”
Last year on Dec. 27, with the Avalanche in Chicago, Sharp celebrated his birthday with a hat trick.
“It was a fun day last year at the United Center, the family was at the game,” said the now 33-year-old Sharp. “It was a big win for the team, so hopefully that trend can continue.”
He did score, but just once, on the power play in the third period.
“He’s getting old, but he can still score some goals,” Brent Seabrook said.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival, who didn’t play in the third period Tuesday against Winnipeg after suffering a lower-body injury, didn’t make the trip to Denver. Quenneville said he, too, might be back for Monday’s game. David Rundblad and Tim Erixon formed the Hawks’ third defensive pairing in his absence.