Dave Bolland will be back in the lineup and Corey Crawford will start when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Minnesota Wild tonight at the United Center.
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Bolland was anchoring the second line at Blackhawks’ morning skate after missing five games with an upper-body injury. Bolland said he did not have a concussion and said his injury was unrelated to his past injury history. He just said it was “something else.”
“It’s never fun when you’re sitting out games and watching all the fun that’s going on, on the ice,” he said. “I’m just glad to be back and ready.”
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Michael Frolik is sick this morning; coach Joel Quenneville said Frolik is doubtful for tonight. Marcus Kruger was once again centering the fourth line after doing a great job on the second in Bolland’s absence.
The Blackhawks are hosting the first team to give them any blemish on their record this season; the Wild beat Chicago in a shootout, 3-2, on Jan. 30 in St. Paul, Minn. Now they’ll look to be the first to hand the Blackhawks a regulation loss. Minnesota is 3-1 in their last four games, including its 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night.
“They’re playing better. They have some balance in their lineup right now, some speed, attack, and I’m sure they’re excited about tonight’s game as well,” Quenneville said of the Wild. “So, it presents for an exciting night.”
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Niklas Backstrom gets the start for the Wild, who understand the challenge the Blackhawks present.
“They’re great. What can you say? It’s amazing what they’ve done to start the season,” Yeo said. “The fact we’re undefeated against them means absolutely nothing. We happened to win that night (in January), but we have a new challenge tonight. Their game’s gotten better since that point.”
Yeo said the Blackhawks’ work without the puck is underrated.
“Every team wants to possess the puck but not everyone has the skill, top to bottom, to execute it, like they do. And they don’t get credit for how they play without it,” he said. “You have to play the right way without it, too, otherwise you’d be chasing the whole time. We have to be ready to play a complete game tonight. It’s going to be guy after guy having to do the right things in every situation. And even at that, it’s going to be a tough test.”
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Marian Hossa, who played in his 1,000th career NHL game on Sunday, will be honored in a pregame ceremony tonight. The Blackhawks will all wear commemorative jerseys, with Hossa and his number, 81, on the back, during warmups. Each jersey will be signed by Hossa and the player who wore it; those jerseys will be auctioned off on chicagoblackhawks.com from 7:30 tonight through noon on Monday. Proceeds will benefit Hossa’s Heroes and Blackhawks Charities.