NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 31st (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (29-15-6) at Vancouver Canucks (30-15-4), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - It's a good news and bad news opening to the second half for the Chicago Blackhawks.
On the down side, the 'Hawks come out of the All-Star break with a nine-game road trip. However, they will have captain Jonathan Toews back on the ice this evening when they open that trek against the Vancouver Canucks.
Toews suffered an upper-body injury in a Jan. 21 setback in Nashville and sat out last Tuesday's rematch with the visiting Predators that ended in a 3-1 defeat. That sent Chicago into the break with consecutive losses after winning three straight and five of six overall.
The Blackhawks will try to avoid a third consecutive defeat this evening and having Toews back will help. The center was forced to skip All-Star weekend due to his ailment, but felt the time off helped.
"I'm excited to be back," said Toews on Monday. "I took the time I think I needed this past week. Unfortunately, nobody wants to sacrifice a weekend like that, but I had to do what I had to do and now I feel I'm definitely going to be ready for [Monday]."
Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville added on Monday that winger Patrick Sharp is also questionable for tonight as he nears a return. Sharp hasn't played since suffering a hand/wrist injury on Jan. 8. He and Toews have combined for 47 goals and 90 points this season.
The Blackhawks, who trail the Red Wings by three points for first place in both the Central Division and overall NHL standings, added veteran Brenden Morrison in a trade over the break, sending defensive prospect Brian Connelly to the Flames for the center. Morrison had just four goals and 11 points in 28 games this year.
He'll add experience to a talented roster that also includes All-Stars Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Both skated with Team Chara in Sunday's game and combined for two goals and two assists in the 12-9 win over Team Alfredsson. Kane also won the NHL Breakaway Challenge at the Skills competition on Saturday after donning a Superman cape and Clark Kent glasses on his diving attempt.
Chicago looks to halt a four-game road slide this evening and won't play at home again until Feb. 19. The Blackhawks were 5-1 victors when they last visited Vancouver on Nov. 16, getting goals from Kane, Toews and Sharp as well as 28 saves by Corey Crawford. The victory snapped Chicago's three-game losing streak to the Canucks that also included a home loss on Nov. 6.
Vancouver enters play leading the Northwest Division by nine points over Minnesota, and sits three points behind Detroit in the standings as well. The Canucks won two straight and four of six heading into the break and come into this contest relatively healthy after getting defenseman Sami Salo back just before the hiatus.
The duo of Henrik and Daniel Sedin continue to lead the Canucks. The former has 11 goals and an NHL-high 41 assists on the season, while Daniel has logged 21 goals and 30 assists. The twins had five points in Sunday's All-Star Game for Team Alfredsson.
Vancouver played its final four games before the break at home and open up the second half with back-to-back games as the host. That includes a big showdown with Detroit on Thursday.
01/31 10:45:25 ET