— Patrick Kane is expected to make his return to the lineup after missing three weeks with a left leg injury. The original diagnosis was three weeks, so he’s on schedule despite some setbacks in his attempts to practice with the team over the last two weeks. Kane injured himself 23 seconds into the December 5th game with Calgary at United Center.
With Hossa and Stalberg both returning from separate injuries in Sunday’s win over Columbus, this would give Joel Quenneville a full, healthy roster for the first time since November 26th at Anaheim.
Tonight presents an interesting roster decision for Joel Quenneville. He hasn’t been a fan of Stalberg’s game of late when he’s been healthy, and it is the Blues, so John Scott’s presence could be needed. However, with there still be a measure of uncertainty on how Kane’s “lower-body” injury will react in real game action, electing to dress a guy who can’t play much more than 5-6 minutes over Stalberg, Pisani or perhaps even Skille could present a tremendous disadvantage should Kane’s injury flare up during the game, especially early on.
[Update] The Blackhawks have announced Fernando Pisani is out tonight due to an illness. So tonight’s likely scratches will be Ryan Johnson, Jordan Hendry and Pisani. Marty Turco is expected to start.
With Hossa and Stalberg back in the lineup, Jack Skille’s ice time was dramatically hacked from 15:02 in his 2-goal effort vs Nashville on the 22nd, to 7:34 on Sunday vs Columbus.
St. Louis is starting Ty Conklin in net tonight. Peculiar considering Conklin was lit up for 7 goals on 24 shots in the Hawks clumsy 7-5 win over the Blues at the UC on November 30th.
— Jeremy Morin suffered what is believed to be a shoulder injury in the U.S.’s tournament opening 3-2 overtime win against Finland on Sunday night. Morin is officially listed as day-to-day but hasn’t skated since and will not be in the lineup tonight when Team USA meets Slovakia in preliminary round competition. Morin did have a goal disallowed (would have been the 3-1 goal at the time) in that game but linemate Nick Bjugstad was cited for being in the crease. Bjugstad won the game three minutes into the overtime.
— Today’s World Junior U20 Championship prelim round action on NHL Network in the U.S.
3pm central – Canada vs Czech Republic
7pm central – Team USA vs Slovakia
Slovakia defeated Germany 2-1 in overtime yesterday in Slovakia’s first game. Germany has dropped its first two games, the other to Switzerland. Blackhawks 2010 6th round pick, Mirko Hoefflin (centre) skates for Germany. Other games today are Finland-Switzerland and Russia-Sweden. Ludvig Rensfeld (2010, 2nd rd, #35 overall) is other Blackhawks’ representative in this tournament.
Tomorrow, Canada will face Norway at 6:30 (central) and Germany will face Finland during the afternoon. The U.S. will meet Germany on Thursday (6pm). The Americans will wrap the preliminary round on New Years Eve when they face Switzerland at 7pm. All Canada and U.S. games will be televised on NHL Network in the States.
Article on Hawks prospect Dylan Olsen (CAN) and Justin Faulk (USA), who are defense partners in college at Minnesota-Duluth. The story also noted how NCAA rules prohibited Olsen hanging around the Hawks during their run to the Stanley Cup last spring.
— Rockford IceHogs are in Milwaukee tonight to face the Admirals. Its a rematch of Sunday night’s game at Metro Centre, which Rockford dropped 2-1 in regulation. Brandon Pirri was a scratch in that one. Shawn Lalonde scored the lone IceHogs’ goal. Alec Richards stopped 28 shots with Hannu Toivonen up with the Blackhawks, backing up Marty Turco in place of Crawford, who was ill.
The IceHogs return home for a game Thursday night with Houston (MN Wild affiliate). That game is already sold out.
— John at the FifthFeather has a really good article on why Dustin Byfuglien, despite his success so far n Atlanta, was never a good fit in Chicago on the blue line.
— Associated Press lists Blackhawks Cup victory 6th on list of Illinois’ top stories of 2010. The Hawks are tied with passing of legislation that will give gay couples the same rights as married straight couples, but still won’t allow them to marry.
Some NHL news…
— Nashville Predators’ agitator Jordin Tootoo voluntarily checked himself into the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse and behavioral health program on Monday. No word why/what for. The Predators will not comment further at this time.
— The Devils put Brian Rolston waivers today and will assign him to their AHL affiliate Albany. The belief is Rolston will then be put through re-entry waivers later this week, should he clear waivers tomorrow. New Jersey has also given Rolston and his agent permission to pursue a trade on their own as well. That’s going to be tough. Rolston’s in the third year of a four-year $20.25M contract. I doubt there are any teams willing to take on Rolston’s full contract. The Devils are hoping a team is willing to take a flyer on Rolston at half the price. Though in that case (re-entry waivers), the Devils will still have the other half of Rolston’s deal counting on their cap for the remainder of the season. Rolston is making $5M this year and will make the same next year. That additional year is what makes any move less likely. One team to consider, just guessing, would be the Islanders, who need all the help they can get for John Tavares.
— Marek Svatos, 28, signed a pro-rated 1-year deal with St. Louis today. He won’t be eligible to play tonight as he needs to clear a mandatory 24-hour waiver period before he officially becomes a member of the Blues. According to Pierre Lebrun of ESPN, Svatos agreed to a contract that will pay him at a rate of $800k in the NHL, or $105k should he be reassigned to the AHL. Svatos, who spent his entire career with the Colorado Avalanche before signing with Avangard Omsk this past summer, came to terms on an amicable release with Avangard last week. Svatos was one of the players involved in that line brawl earlier this month with Vityaz on Dec 10th. Six seconds into the game, all five Avangard skaters got jumped by Vityaz and Svatos, a skill player and not a big guy, was one Omsk player who was pummeled. Svatos skated in the game after that brawl, but did not return to the team after the KHL’s one-week break.
— After tonight, the Hawks return home to face the Sharks on Thursday. San Jose begins a road trip in Minnesota on Wednesday night.
— Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times did a piece on Jake Dowell and his family over the holiday
Dowell was named “athlete of the year” by his hometown paper
— Pete Leblanc went from ECHLer in Toledo to the offensive spark the Rockford IceHogs have been lacking all season. Reed Schreck of the Rockford Register-Star has the story
— Video of Anze Kopitar’s perfect over-the-head lead-pass on Dustin Brown’s 2nd goal against the Sharks in LA’s 4-0 win at San Jose on Monday night. [Yahoo!]
— Top 10 on-ice moments of 2010, per Puck Daddy
— Chris Osgood posted his 400th NHL regular season win last night in the Red Wings’ 4-3 overtime win at Colorado. Great game. Osgood, who appears to be a year, perhaps two, away from retirement, now has all the numbers he needs to make a great argument for HOF enshrinement.
— Fans at Nationwide Arena last night claim NHL referee Paul Devorski taunted them with a “crying face”, gave them a middle finger gesture in response the fans taunting Devorski, upset officials gave Minnesota a 7-0 advantage in power play opportunities (12:36 to 0:00) in the game. I saw some of that game. Those Jackets’ fans are crybabies in this case. Columbus could have easily been short-handed at least 12 times. If anything, Devorski and his partner Ian Walsh went too easy on the Jackets. Columbus played a stupid game but wound up winning the game 4-3 in a shootout anyway. The Wild were 0-7 with their power play. Columbus would have had one power play in the second, but Mike Commodore was in the box serving a five minute boarding major after hitting Cal Clutterbuck. There were missed calls for both sides, as there are in almost every game, but Columbus had no one to blame but themselves for the dramatic discrepancy in power plays on Monday. Case in point, Jared Boll took a ridiculously blatant run at Mikko Koivu in the first period, but because Koivu avoided it, the refs ignored it. That shouldn’t happen. A charge is a charge. But Columbus got away with one there. Boll was challenged and fought Brad Staubitz right after that incident.
After Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel scratched Jakub Voracek, Derek Dorsett and defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who has been Columbus’ best defenseman for much of the season.
— Video – Here’s Ron MacLean’s feature and interview with new NHLPA lead director Donald Fehr from CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast two Saturday’s back. Stu Hackel of the NY Times and SI.com has a piece on Fehr in the link as well.