While the Blackhawks had nothing to say about Patrick Sharp's left-knee injury Monday because it was a day off for the team, the comments from Sharp's teammates following Sunday's 2-1 win over Phoenix suggested it won't be good news.
"I'm sure Sharpie is frustrated," captain Jonathan Toews told reporters. "We have to find a way without him."
Added defenseman Duncan Keith: "A lot of guys did a good job of trying to fill in and stepping their play up. When guys go down you need other guys to step up and fill the void. Tonight we did that and we're going to need it going forward."
Finding a way to slip into the playoffs without Sharp won't be easy if the NHL's fifth-leading goal scorer is out for a significant chunk of time.
The line of Toews, Sharp and Patrick Kane has been the backbone of the Hawks' playoff push along with goalie Corey Crawford.
Viktor Stalberg and Troy Brouwer would be the likely candidates to replace Sharp on the top line, but Stalberg has been mostly inconsistent in previous chances with Toews and Kane, while Brouwer has gone the last 15 games without a goal.
Stalberg did play a strong third period with Toews and Kane in the victory over Phoenix and has been more involved around the net of late.
Sharp has had issues with his left knee before, missing 16 games late in the 2008-09 season with a sprain. A similar diagnosis could see him miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks, which would carry over into the second round of the playoffs.
Sharp's injury comes at a time when the Hawks already are trying to get by without second-line center Dave Bolland and top-four defenseman Brian Campbell.
"The story of the year it seems," Toews said. "We've had a lot of guys go down with injuries."
Bolland is out indefinitely with a concussion, while Campbell has been nursing a foot injury. If Campbell is at practice Tuesday there's a chance he could return this week.
Without Campbell and coming off that miserable 5-0 loss at Dallas, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville felt the need to shuffle his defense pairings against the Coyotes, reuniting Keith with Brent Seabrook for the first time since early February.
"I felt like moving things around a little bit," Quenneville said. "I felt like we were giving up a little too much quality lately."
With 34 goals, Sharp is within 2 of tying his career high. He also is a key part of one of the best power-play units in the league and a top-four penalty-killing forward.
The Hawks have 10 games remaining on the schedule with the next two at home. They host Florida on Wednesday and Anaheim on Saturday.
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