Marian Hossa will return to the Blackhawks’ lineup against the Vancouver Canucks after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
Defenseman Johnny Oduya, who was rested against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night, also will play against the Canucks. Corey Crawford will start in goal after Scott Darling played against the Avalanche.
Coach Joel Quenneville indicated he is being careful with players like Hossa and Oduya — who missed 15 games with an ankle injury prior to being acquired from the Dallas Stars — to keep them fresh for the playoffs.
“That’s something we can look at … we have 10 to go [in the regular season] and want to make sure we’re fresh,” Quenneville said. “At the same time we want to be competitive. If we have a chance to back off a little bit, that’ll be dictatyed by the score, the time of the game. But our older guys — we play every other day going forward — so practices will probably be more [like] game-day skates.
The Hawks lead the Minnesota Wild by seven points for the Central Division lead and best record in the Western Conference. But they still trail the Capitals and Blue Jackets by one point for the President’s Trophy, which would give them home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final if they get there.
The Hawks (47-20-5, 99 points) have won five consecutive games and 17 of their last 20 to move from six points behind the Wild to seven points ahead with 10 games to go in the regular season.
“We put ourselves in a good spot with a nice run at a good time of the season,” Quenneville said. “We had some better consistency than we’ve had recently … finding ways to win differently — especially the last game [with five goals in the third period to beat the Avalanche 6-3].
It’s a good sign. But we want to make sure there’s some improvement in our game and we want to make sure we’re fresh and balanced in our team game as well. We put ourselves in a good spot, but don’t be satisfied. Keep pushing ahead.”