DALLAS —Marian Hossa’s back. For real, this time.
After deciding against returning Wednesday in St. Louis, Hossa felt good enough at Friday’s morning skate in Dallas to declare himself fit to play. So the Blackhawks finally will get a look at their new top line of Andrew Ladd, Jonathan Toews and Hossa in Friday night’s first-place showdown with the Stars.
“You’ve got it in your head, and you want to make sure you’re 100 percent sure,” Hossa said. “I wasn’t ready in St. Louis. I just felt I wasn’t at the time. Those two days [off] helped, and today I felt way better again, and did a few exercises in the corner —pushing and shoving — and felt pretty strong.”
Hossa hasn’t played since a Hampus Lindholm hip-check sent him tumbling into the boards on Feb. 13. He had to be helped off the ice with an apparent left leg injury. The Hawks went 5-3-1 without him, and their penalty kill has given up 10 goals on just 30 power plays.
“Big addition to our team in a lot of ways,” Joel Quenneville said. “[He’ll] get to play with Jonny, penalty killing and a lot of situations. Important ice time, so it’s always good to see him back in the lineup.”
Hossa thinks he’ll mesh well with Ladd, who plays a similar style of game.
“Laddy’s a big body,” Hossa said. “He goes to the net hard, he’ll pressure the puck hard, so he can get lots of pucks and he’s good also defensively. Similar game I like to play — coming back hard and play defensively and I think we can get lots of pucks and be strong on the puck. That’s going to be our game.”
Richard Panik will draw back into the lineup and play alongside Andrew Shaw and Dale Weise on the fourth line. Brandon Mashinter and Dennis Rasmussen will be healthy scratches. Michal Rozsival left the morning skate early with a lower-body injury and is out tonight, but Quenneville said he’s just day-to-day and that the injury isn’t serious.
Toews skipped the morning skate, but will play. Quenneville said Toews has no problems with the hip flexor that briefly forced him out of the Blues game.