Blackhawks notes: Shaw nears return, big moment for Raanta

Blackhawks notes: Shaw nears return, big moment for Raanta
December 7, 2013, 11:45 am
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With Andrew Shaw on the verge of returning, the Chicago Blackhawks shipped a forward back to Rockford.

Joakim Nordstrom was reassigned to the IceHogs on Saturday morning after playing the past two games with the Blackhawks. The move wasn’t a surprising one; coach Joel Quenneville said Shaw, who’s missed the past two games with an upper-body injury sustained against Dallas, would probably return against the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.

Nordstrom garnered an assist on Jeremy Morin’s goal against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. He was part of the Blackhawks’ fourth line in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks on Friday night.

The Blackhawks will welcome back Shaw, who took a big hit along the boards late in the team’s 4-3 loss to Dallas on Tuesday night. The forward was playing well prior to his injury, garnering points (four goals, two assists) in four of his previous six games.

[MORE: Versteeg feeling back at home with Blackhawks]

Meanwhile, forward Bryan Bickell continues to progress from the left-leg injury he suffered at the start of the Blackhawks’ circus trip. Quenneville said Bickell should start skating this coming week.

Antti, meet Teemu

Antti Raanta’s indoctrination into the NHL continued on Friday night, with his first home start and first shootout with the Blackhawks. He also had some awestruck moments. One was playing against the great forward and fellow Finn Teemu Selanne, who nearly scored on Raanta on a breakaway goal.

“It was pretty nice to play the Finnish Flash, a legendary guy,” said Raanta, who added that he was three years old when Selanne had his 76-goal season with the 1992-93 Winnipeg Jets. “I’m a pretty lucky guy that I got a chance to play against him.”

Briefly

Despite their three-game winless streak, the Blackhawks entered Saturday night’s NHL slate atop the Western Conference standings (45 points).

The Blackhawks have a plus-23 goal differential, third-best in the Western Conference (St. Louis leads with plus-35).