While some contenders are loading up at the trade deadline, the Blackhawks believe two players about to return from the injured list will make a big difference down the stretch in Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.
Both players could be back in the lineup from their shoulder injuries as soon as Thursday against St. Louis at the United Center.
“Some people would say those would be two nice trade deadline additions to have Hossa and Sharp come back,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “Sharpie’s been out about a month now and we’ve played well without him, but we certainly played real well with him too.
“Add both of those guys to the lineup and it certainly gives us a very dangerous look offensively. And they do more than score goals. They play on the penalty kill, power play; they play in all situations for us. Adding (Michal) Handzus to that with those two players will give our team a little bounce.”
Sharp has missed the last 11 games; Hossa the last six.
“They’ve been out a little while, and I thought the young guys have done a good job of stepping up — (Jeremy) Morin, (Jimmy) Hayes and (Brandon) Saad has been playing great.” Patrick Kane said. “When they come back we’ll see what happens, hopefully it’s soon.
“I’m sure it will be a big boost to the lineup. It’s like adding two superstars to your team, especially in a stretch like this just before playoffs.”
A good indication of the positive status of Sharp and Hossa for Thursday was the fact Hayes and Morin were returned to Rockford on Tuesday.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival’s winning goal in Monday’s shootout against Nashville was the talk of the dressing room after the game.
“Everyone was kind of saying ‘Put him in, put him in,’” Patrick Kane said. “He’s one of those guys in practice, he seems to score every time on the same move. He’s got great hands for a defenseman. I thought it was a good call by the coaches.”
Joel Quenneville pays close attention to who does well whenever the team practices shootouts.
“He went with his signature move there and I thought tonight he made a great play,” Quenneville said after the game.
“He’s got great hands and his patience is unreal,” Corey Crawford said. “You watch him in a game and I don’t know how many times he’ll wait for a guy to curl by him and he makes a play.”
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Monday’s game against Nashville was the first of four with the Predators to finish the season.
“It’s always good to win the first game,” Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve got them four times in a short amount of time to finish the season here. Every game we play against Nashville, they’re in the game right to the end. They find a way to keep themselves in the game. It looked like we had control and here they come again.
“That’s the way they are, they’re relentless and find ways to keep themselves in games. Hopefully there’s a lesson there that you’ve got to be relentless against them.”
The Predators rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to get to extra time, eventually losing 3-2 in a shootout.
“It’s a reoccurring theme lately with teams coming at us hard in the third period,” Jonathan Toews said. “We have to make sure it’s our best period going forward. That’s got to be at the forefront of our mindset.
“Our preparation going into the third periods from now on, whether we have the lead or not, we’ve got to play right until the end. And if we have leads we don’t need to score goals, we just need to keep them out of our net.”
The Blackhawks did make a deal Tuesday, acquiring the rights to defenseman Kirill Gotovets from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Philippe Paradis.
Gotovets, 21, currently plays for Cornell University.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.