Coach Joel Quenneville said the upcoming busy schedule meant Nikolai Khabibulin would start again soon. “Soon” is now tomorrow night.
Khabibulin will get the start in goal when the Chicago Blackhawks face the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. It will be Khabibulin’s first start since Oct. 29, when he played just over half his start against the Ottawa Senators before he was pulled. Corey Crawford has played in the past nine Blackhawks games.
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The Blackhawks have a tough weekend ahead of them, first on the road in Nashville and then home against the San Jose Sharks.
“Both games are equally tough when you look at it. We’re getting him a start on the road and getting him back in the swing of things. That’s what we’re looking at,” Quenneville said. “For goalies, every start is a big start. It’s been a while since he’s played. Hopefully he can get in there, do his thing and feel comfortable.”
Michal Handzus (upper body) and Mike Kostka (lower body) were placed in long-term injury reserve on Thursday night, around the same time the Blackhawks traded for Kris Versteeg. Teams are eligible for cap relief when a player is considered to have an injury that causes him to miss 10 games and 24 days.
Handzus was played on injured reserve prior to Thursday’s game, retroactive to Oct. 25. His last game was Oct. 24 vs. Tampa Bay. The veteran center was skating last week on his own, but he suffered a setback and has not skated at all this week.
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“I just think when you’re ready you’re ready; whatever time is necessary and needed,” Quenneville said regarding Handzus. “He’s showing progress there. It’s not too far away but that was kind of the thought process.”
Kostka was injured in morning skate on Oct. 22; he’s already missed 10 games due to that injury, including the Oct. 24 game in Tampa.
Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa did not practice on Friday. Both were just taking rest days.
Brad Mills, who cleared waivers this afternoon, was reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs.
Jeremy Morin and Alex Broadhurst were reassigned to Rockford late Thursday night.