Vince Hinostroza

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‘Hawks put Hossa on IR, hopeful he’s back for Winter Classic

The injury that knocked Marian Hossa out of Chicago’s loss to Ottawa last Tuesday will sideline him for a few more games.

Per the Sun-Times, Hossa has been placed on IR with an upper-body injury. Having already missed most of the aforementioned Sens game and all of Friday’s 2-1 OT loss to Colorado, it now looks like the veteran winger will miss three more — tonight’s game against Winnipeg, then road dates in Nashville on Dec. 29, and Carolina on Dec. 30.

The hope, it would seem, is that Hossa will recover in time to face the Blues at Busch Stadium on Jan. 2, for the 2017 Winter Classic.

Chicago certainly needs the 37-year-old in the lineup. Hossa leads the club in goals this year, with 16, and is averaging a healthy 17:17 TOI per night.

With Hossa out, the ‘Hawks look as though they’ll roll with a top line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. Jonathan Toews will center Ryan Hartman and Vince Hinostroza on line two, while Marcus Kruger will play between Dennis Rasmussen and Richard Panik on the third.

Four players — Andrew Desjarsins, Tanner Kero, Tyler Motte and Jordin Tootoo — are vying for spots on the fourth line.

No Toews today for Blackhawks

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The Chicago Blackhawks will be without their captain, Jonathan Toews, this afternoon in Anaheim. Toews will sit out against the Ducks due to the upper-body injury he suffered Wednesday in San Jose.

How will the ‘Hawks manage without their top center?

Well, Toews’ spot on the first line is expected to be filled by Vince Hinostroza, who will skate between Ryan Hartman and Marian Hossa.

But the real top line today will be Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, and Patrick Kane. Those three may really have to carry the offense now.

Read more: Blackhawks banking on improvement from rookies

Toews has four goals and eight assists in 21 games this season. But, of course, he’s so much more than his point totals.

“Johnny’s importance to our team is immense,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “In all situations, the minutes he absorbs and the assignments he gets against him — they’re all important minutes when he’s out on the ice. There’s a lot of ice time and a lot of quality ice time [to fill] if there’s not Johnny Toews in your lineup.”

The Blackhawks also play tomorrow evening against the Kings. No word if Toews will be available by then.

With Toews questionable for Friday, a reminder of Chicago’s shaky depth

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Considering their spot atop the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks haven’t hit the wall like many pundits predicted they would … at least, yet.

Some might wonder if the cracks are forming with a two-game losing streak and, with Jonathan Toews‘ upper-body injury in mind, how vulnerable this group could be to injuries to top players.

Toews is considered day-to-day and questionable for Friday’s game at Anaheim (and one would assume, also in doubt for at least Saturday’s contest in Los Angeles).

Take a gander at what Chicago’s lines looked like without Toews on Thursday, via CSN Chicago’s Tracy Myers:

Ryan HartmanVince HinostrozaMarian Hossa (Or “Triple-H” as Myers masterfully notes)
Artemi PanarinArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane
Dennis RasmussenMarcus KrugerJordin Tootoo
Tyler MotteNick SchmaltzRichard Panik

Yikes.

Yes, you could probably place the Kane line as the actual top line – not that it really matters when you’re just listing them – but either way, you can understand the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus describing Toews as the Blackhawks’ most “irreplaceable player” whether you quibble or not.

Toews was skating most often with Hinostroza and Hossa before getting hurt on Wednesday, tying the room together like a Lebowski rug.

It’s worth noting that “Captain Serious” isn’t outright ruled out of tomorrow’s game against the Ducks, even if it seems logical that he’d at least miss one of a back-to-back set against two California teams that can be punishing at times. His potential absence brings up interesting questions nonetheless.

The good and the bad

From one perspective, the initial reaction is to wonder if issues are starting to surface. The Blackhawks aren’t the possession demon they once were, so you wonder if winter is merely coming for Chicago.

On the other hand, the “Circus Trip” will conclude on Saturday. After that, they’ll play six of their next seven at home and just four away games in 14 games from Nov. 29 – Dec. 27.

Overall, then, it seems like Toews’ injury situation in general: we still need to wait and see what happens.

Blackhawks come storming back to defeat struggling Canucks in OT thriller

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It was all going so well for the beleaguered Canucks.

A Loui Eriksson goal? Check.

A (rare) lead? Check.

A (rare) three-goal lead after two periods against the Chicago Blackhawks on home ice? Well, that’s icing on the cake.

And then it all went wrong.

The Blackhawks came roaring back with four answered goals, Marian Hossa scoring the winner in overtime for a 4-3 victory. Jonathan Toews appeared to score the winner earlier in the extra period, but the goal was called back after a review showed Chicago was offside.

The Canucks deserved credit for stifling the Blackhawks, keeping them to only 11 shots on goal through two periods.

Chicago then put it into another gear, with 17 shots on Jacob Markstrom in the final 20 minutes. They scored three times and had chances to win it in regulation, too, because the Canucks were reeling.

This will be a game that got away from the Canucks.

“Getting a point from the Blackhawks is normally a good thing. Not tonight. We should had two,” said Henrik Sedin.

After getting new life in overtime, they were unable to convert on their numerous opportunities, including an Eriksson breakaway that resulted in a great Scott Darling save. Bo Horvat and Markus Granlund had chances, too. Couldn’t score.

It all adds up to another disappointing loss in Vancouver and for its fan base.

There has been speculation for weeks about the future of head coach Willie Desjardins and with three days until their next game, which starts a three-game road trip, this loss — especially with the way it unfolded in the third period — won’t do anything to quell that.

Desjardins said his message to his team after two periods was not to sit back. That plan never materialized.

“We had to go after it and basically keep playing the same way. But we didn’t want to sit back and let them come to us,” he told reporters. “If you look at the period, we didn’t execute it very well, obviously. (The Blackhawks) got a lot of chances.”

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks maintain their lead in the Central Division with eight wins in their last 10 games.

“Guys are saying, we’re coming back, there’s no way we’re losing this one. It’s definitely cool to hear that,” said Blackhawks forward Vince Hinostroza, who had a three-point night, per Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.