Duncan Keith will play tonight after taking a maintenance morning off but David Backes’ status is a bit up in the air as the Chicago Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their first-round series on Wednesday night.
The Blackhawks’ defenseman did not participate in the Blackhawks’ morning skate but coach Joel Quenneville said he is fine. Meanwhile, Backes, who was injured but Brent Seabrook’s hit in Game 2 on Saturday, did not skate with his teammates earlier today. Various reports, including from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, say Backes will play in Game 4. Coach Ken Hitchcock was being coy at his pregame press conference.
“He wasn’t available for the pregame skate,” Hitchcock said to two questions about Backes starting tonight. Hitchcock also said not to read too much into the Blues’ early skate line combinations, of which Backes was not part.
“On this one, I probably could be a liar. So I wouldn’t evaluate our roster right now until you see it tonight,” he said. “Just be careful. Put it in pencil today. I might be fooling with you all today.”
The Blues however, did suffer another loss as forward Brenden Morrow has been ruled out the rest of the series. Morrow suffered a foot injury late in the regular season.
If Backes does return, he’s an obvious asset for the Blues and another challenge for the Blackhawks.
“He’s a tough competitor,” Johnny Oduya said. “I said kind of same thing a couple days back here. I think their focus is to win games and ours is, too. I’m not assuming anything else, and whatever happens on the ice, happens on the ice.”
The Blackhawks said they will be prepared regardless of Backes’ status.
“He’s certainly a key guy for them in terms of quality ice time, quantity of ice time,” Quenneville said. “He’s a big body out there as well. But no matter who’s playing in that spot, be ready to work hard.”