By Brian Hedger — For the Sun-Times
When he signed with the Blackhawks on July 1, Brian Campbell was billed as the missing link to a defense that struggled last season without Johnny Oduya.
After four games, it looks like Campbell will be just missing when the Hawks play the Blue Jackets on Friday in Columbus. The 37-year-old defenseman, who has played on the third line with rookie Gustav Forsling, is expected to be a healthy scratch.
Forsling and Trevor van Riemsdyk worked together during practice Wednesday, while Campbell worked with fellow 37-year-old defenseman Michal Rozsival.
“We don’t want the same two guys sitting out all the time,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Sometimes you don’t want to tinker with a winning lineup, and sometimes . . . you’ve got to get them in there to play. That’s what we’re visiting.”
Van Riemsdyk hasn’t played since the opener against the Blues, when he had two penalties in the final game of Niklas Hjalmarsson’s suspension. He’s a right-handed shot and played the right point at practice with the left-handed Forsling.
Campbell, a left-handed shot, is still trying to adjust to his off side to accommodate Forsling. Campbell played the left point the past few seasons with the Panthers. It’s going to take some time to adjust, but now he might have to wait for another chance to play.
It’s a surprising development considering how much his return to the Hawks was touted.
Campbell has an assist and plus-2
rating, so his primary numbers aren’t bad. However, he has posted puck-possession metrics that are far below his career percentages. Forsling’s possession measures are also poor, but Quenneville continues to laud the rookie’s instincts.
Forsling doesn’t care which side his partner shoots from.
“Sometimes it’s good to have a righty, but it really doesn’t matter for me,” he said. “I feel pretty comfortable. I’ve gotten into it pretty good. I’ve got a lot to work on. I’ve got to work on every single area of my game.”
Van Riemsdyk, a third-year pro who’s played only one full season, also has things to learn. It looks like his next chance to do that will be Friday.
“We still have a lot of options as we go along here,” said Quenneville, who’s also looking for a spot to play Rozsival. “That’s the thing with our defense. You haven’t etched in stone how long it’s going to be with one guy. We don’t mind a couple pairs, and I still think that we want to make sure that everybody’s trying to get in the lineup and staying fresh, but we’ll have a number of looks over the course of the year. That’ll be fun to see exactly how it’s going to end up.”
Hossa iffy, Hartman ready
Marian Hossa, who scored his 500th goal Tuesday in the win against the Flyers, missed practice because of a lower-body injury that sidelined him early in the third period.
Quenneville said Hossa, who was injured blocking a shot by Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, is questionable for the game Friday in Columbus and against the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Rookie forward Ryan Hartman, who missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, practiced and could return against Columbus.
“He progressed really well,” Quenneville said. “He feels good, skated well. He looks like he’s going to be ready.”
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