Marian Hossa was scheduled to make his preseason debut tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now, the hope is that he’ll at least be ready for the regular-season opener on Oct. 1.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said the Hossa “aggravated” an upper-body injury and that he won’t play in the Hawks’ next four preseason games, which take place in a five-day span. Quenneville said he hoped that Hossa could play in the preseason finale next Saturday, and that he believed the big winger would be ready for the opener.
Hossa dealt with a nerve issue in his back, caused by a bulging disk, during the Stanley Cup Final last spring (he missed Game 3), but looked spry during three days of scrimmaging at Notre Dame last week. He had two goals and an assist in those scrimmages, but hasn’t seen the ice since.
“He was skating pretty good,” Quenneville said. “We liked the way he was playing and moving out there. But this is where we’re at.”
Quenneville said he was “comfortable” that the injury wasn’t serious.
“We feel he’ll be back and he’ll be fine [for the opener],” he said.
— Jonathan Toews (lower-body injury), who hasn’t played in any scrimmages or games this camp, likely will make his preseason debut Friday night at Washington.
“He wants to play badly,” Quenneville said.
— Brandon Pirri (lower body) left this morning skate early. Quenneville said his health will be a factor in whether he makes the team out of camp, but added, “He’s still in the mix.”
— Nikolai Khabibulin will start in net tonight against the Hawks, while Antti Raanta will get the nod Friday against the Capitals.
— Defenseman Mike Kostka, who was boarded by Detroit’s Teemu Pulkkinen on Tuesday night, was at the United Center in street clothes on Thursday.
“He’s OK, didn’t skate today,” Quenneville said. “He’s better, obviously, than the other day. We’ll say he’s day-to-day.”
As for whether Pulkkinen deserved a suspension, Quenneville said, “It was a very dangerous hit. That’s their deal, but it was an interesting shift for the kid.”
— Tonight will be the first time Penguins star Sidney Crosby plays at the United Center since Jan. 13, 2006, his rookie season.
“He’s a special player, a premier payer, you could argue one, two or three [in the league], but he’s one of those guys that does a lot of things that can get you excited,” Quenneville said. “The fact that he hasn’t played here in that long is pretty amazing.”